Authors' rights have not been respected in Kosovo due to political turmoil.
By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 22/06/12
As intellectual property rights are compromised in Kosovo, the government seems ready to fight back. [Reuters]
The Ministry for Culture is attempting to establish intellectual property rights and fight publishing piracy in a country where the notion of copyright is generally unknown. Authors' rights in Kosovo have not been protected since the late 1980s, due to political turmoil.
"Authors' rights are neglected, with widespread misconceptions, and little effect in practice," Genc Prelvukaj, adviser at the Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports, told SETimes.
"Earlier generations familiar with authors' rights practised another standard during Communism, but youth today had no chance to experience it, except artists who face consequences from lack of copyright," he said.
In order to improve the situation, the culture ministry adopted a new law on authors' rights late last year, and established a working office to implement the law.
Through media and a public campaign, there is now a rising awareness of the situation that has encouraged artists to form associations which will enable authors to protect their rights.
Under the ministry's guidance, two collective societies were formed: composer Florent Boshnjaku established the Association of Music Authors of Kosovo (APIK) that deals with music arts, while a second, VAPIK, deals with audio-visual arts.
Boshnjaku expressed concerned with the lack of awareness of copyright issue, even among artists.
"Our community is still not consolidated. They still lack proper copyright information on what their benefits, their legal, moral, intellectual rights are," Boshnjaku told SETimes.
Compared with Kosovo, artists' societies in the region are quite efficient, according to Belgium-based expert on intellectual property law Baris Isik, who said it is a matter of copyright owners' initiative to contact collective societies and reach agreements to have their right enforced and to collect payment.
Isik compared copyright infringements in Pristina with one in Turkey from ten years ago, and said that the current situation in Turkey has significantly improved -- after the state came up with a competent task force that conducted daily raids to fight copyright infringement.
The Kosovo Culture Ministry will form a task force as the next step, comprised of trade inspectors, police, customs, prosecutors, courts and government officials.
Another media and public campaign will start soon, said Prelvukaj. "The purpose of the first one was to inform about the legal basis for authors' rights and its importance, while the second which will hopefully start in September, will present measures against copyright abuses and piracy," he said.