Content Piracy Threatens Zimbabwe’s Creative Sector, Economy

MultiChoice Zimbabwe and NACZ Tackle Illegal Content Sharing

by Adenike Adeodun

The creative industry in Zimbabwe is at risk due to piracy, which not only threatens the livelihood of local artists but also the economic stability of the region. Siyabulela Jemsana, the General Manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe, is leading efforts to address this issue. Jemsana spoke about the upcoming anti-piracy workshop, titled “A Culture of Learning: Building Zimbabwean Creative Sector Brick by Brick,” which will take place at a local hotel in Harare. This workshop is a collaborative effort with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) to educate and combat rampant piracy in the nation.

The illegal copying and distribution of movies, television shows, music, software, and books have a significant impact on Zimbabwe. It is estimated that these activities cost the global economy around $71 billion annually, which is more than the GDPs of some entire regions. In Zimbabwe, where the creative arts play a crucial role in cultural expression and economic growth, piracy leads to substantial revenue loss and job insecurity among artists, as well as those involved in production and distribution.

The film and television industry, along with other creative fields such as software development and literature, suffers as pirated content circumvents legitimate channels, denying creators fair compensation and stifling the industry’s development. This not only affects the individuals directly involved—actors, directors, producers, and technical staff—but also hampers the country’s ability to narrate its own stories and cultural heritage.

Recognizing the severity of the issue, MultiChoice Zimbabwe has positioned itself as a leader in the fight against content piracy. As a member of Partners Against Piracy, a pan-African initiative, MultiChoice actively participates in campaigns aimed at reducing piracy and safeguarding the creative industry’s integrity. Collaboration with NACZ aims to amplify these efforts, ensuring that protective measures reach a broader segment of the Zimbabwean creative community.

The upcoming workshop coincides with the World Intellectual Property Day, observed on April 26, and falls within Culture Month, celebrated in May. This year’s Culture Month, under the theme “Our culture: Building Zimbabwe Brick by Brick,” reflects a national commitment to fostering sustainable development through cultural preservation and innovation.

The session aims to enhance understanding of intellectual property rights among new and established artists and to stress the importance of public-private partnerships in combating piracy. These collaborations are vital for creating a robust framework that supports artists and ensures that copyright laws are respected and enforced.

Jemsana emphasized the critical role of such educational initiatives, stating, “Piracy poses a legitimate industry threat, and immediate action must be taken to stop pirates and protect the rights of content creators and providers. This action must come from the united efforts of government institutions, entertainment businesses, and all professionals working in the creative industries.”

Support for the workshop from the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association and the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust underscores the community’s collective resolve to address these challenges.

NACZ acting director Barbara Gotore highlighted several factors contributing to the prevalence of piracy, including the scarcity of genuine products, high costs, poverty, ineffective distribution networks, and a sluggish judicial system. New digital technologies that facilitate rapid and unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted works exacerbate the issue, making it easier for piracy to thrive.

Gotore’s comments underline the complex nature of piracy, which requires a multifaceted approach to address both the supply and demand sides of pirated content. Ensuring the availability of affordable, genuine products is just as crucial as punitive measures against piracy.

As Zimbabwe continues to nurture its creative sector, the importance of protecting intellectual property cannot be overstated. By securing the rights of creators and investing in the cultural economy, Zimbabwe not only preserves its cultural heritage but also lays the groundwork for substantial economic growth and innovation.


Source: Newsday

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