Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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MTN and Orange Accused of Copyright Violations 

By Muto Mulema – Artistes in Cameroon have taken another stride in their efforts to correct what they consider as the abusive exploitation of copy-righted material by private mobile operators in Cameroon.

After years of wrangling between artistes’ rights groups and weeks of petition-filing to local authorities, the plight of musicians in Cameroon has been carried to an international dimension.

“For many years, professional bodies representing artistes and producers in Cameroon have tried in vain to convince authorities of MTN and Orange to clear their debts,” a petition addressed this week to President Paul Biya by Benoit Machuel, secretary general of the International Federation of Musicians states.

“In perpetual violation of the law, MTN and Orange use protected material without either requesting or obtaining the license to do so from the copyright owners,” Benoit Machuel complained. “These acts of piracy have led the public to avoid the purchase of regularly registered music preferring to obtain same from MTN and Orange that provide downloads at the cost of 300 FCFA per song.” 

Going by this observed state of affairs, the international body solicited the President of the Republic’s intervention to help the colony of artistes victimized by the mobile operators recover their entitlement. “To put an end to this unjust situation, we pray you to use your influence to compel these defaulters to engage, without delay, a negotiation in good faith with the victims,” the secretary general of the international federation suggested to President Biya threatening to raise the scandalous affair on the international stage.

This appeal to President Paul Biya comes in the heat of negotiations mediated by the government of Cameroon between the mobile operators and the artistes and producers who feel cheated. The imbroglio was sparked after the Syndicate of Musicians led by Romeo Dika launched a crusade against MTN and Orange which artistes accuse of reaping where they did not sow. The negotiations coordinated by the Ministry of Arts and Culture are still ongoing albeit, slowly, owing to the reticence expressed on the matter by one of the mobile operators.

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