“This is the time for us to stand up against the illegal act of piracy in this country. Copy Right violation is a serious issue for us gospel musicians, and even the other musicians. The prolific use of memory chips to transfer our music is and has caused problems for us. Our music is sold through the means of memory chip, resulting to no profit coming to us.”
These were the statements of members of the Liberia Association of Gospel Musical Artists (LAGMA), on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, when they protested against piracy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been running her office since a fire outbreak at the Executive Mansion on July 26, 2006.
The Liberian gospel musicians said the illegal transfer of their music through the use of memory chips, which is a copy right violation, continues to create problems for them as they do not receive any money for the music, and some do not get back the money they use to produce the music.
In an interview with journalists, LAGMA President, Zarweay Gaye, commonly referred to as “Zarweay the Elder,” called on President Johnson Sirleaf to intervene in their plight as the situation undermines not only gospel music, but also other music. “In order for us to succeed in our fight against this deadly disease called piracy, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf must act in our interest,” he stressed.
Zarweay the Elder recalled that since 1997 when the piracy law was adopted, it has always been violated by the public and pirates, and therefore called on the president to act swiftly to their cry.
He assured that, their protest is peaceful, but called on Madam Johnson Sirleaf to add more weight to their cry by putting in the necessary measures and adopting strong laws that will forbid and criminalize any form of piracy or transfer of music through the memory chip.
As Zarweay the Elder was speaking to newsmen, members of his group were seen singing a popular gospel song: “I will not let you go until you bless me” and holding up placards with inscriptions like “piracy is killing us, we are dying slowly”.
He opined that some government officials might be behind the piracy, noting that whenever they try to take legal issues with some pirates, some “officials of government will jump in and say it is their interest”.
The LAGMA’s President avowed that The Republic of Gambia, Ghana, and Nigeria, who have enacted strong and musical favorable laws to put stop to piracy and the use of chips to sell music, and that Liberia, can do the same, adding that they (LAGMA) will not stop until they are heard.
He further explained that they pay around forty United States dollars US$40.00) to the government of Liberia for each music produced. He asserted that they have not been able to pay such huge tax to the government and produce more music because of piracy.
Zarweay the Elder then called on all Liberians to help them in this worthy cost.