Copy right laws in Maldives.. Who needs it?

The list of the biggest problems we face in the country are many but they certainly do not include an issue about copyright laws. Nevertheless our parliament ie The Majlis is busy debating this very issue. A fair question might be, why? Why indeed are they debating this issue which is an issue with the advanced countries of the world who are inundated with intellect and intellectual property? Compared to them who are we and what do we produce of intellectual value? Zilch is the answer!

The bill was said to have been tabled by the ruling MDP which might be a political necessity for securing better foreign relations with donor countries but the implications of the bill will certainly hurt the country as a whole. The bill will ultimately govern all aspects of modern living from music, films to softwares etc which is all but too expensive for the 99% of the population of this country to buy at original copy right sanctioned prices. The proponents of the bill are saying this bill will encourage productivity but that is far from reality considering the current situation of the country. For example once this bill comes in to law, its very probable that small to medium business owners will turn to local software ‘engineers’ to write for them some sort of POS application for their shop which will will be happily sold by the few crappy software engineers we have for highly bloated prices which will land the business owner in circle one. Basically the bill will give an unfair advantage to the few local software makers at the expense of the public who are used to pirated copies of the best softwares of the world for a very fair price!

There are no opponents to the bill in DRP, which normally opposes MDP in almost everything but this time around they had only to say this. “That some businessmen are getting richer by selling these fake products and pirated software and films and this shall be stopped.” However they also failed to acknowledge the immense benefit the public receives from such commerce.

As for the songs and movies, this sector is so small as to be completely insignificant compared to the demand of the viewers. Most of our countrymen (and women of course!) are polyglots by nature as they learn English in school and Hindi at home while speaking various dialects of local language in everyday life. So the lacking of Dhivehi films and songs is complemented by the abundance of such materials from Bollywood and Hollywood which needless to say are prevalently pirated copies of originals. Once this door is slapped by the copyright regime, the mother or father of necessity shall in theory be called upon to fill the gap which it simply can never do. Literature and arts and culture take time to develop and cannot be forced in by legislating them in.

Every country in the world except perhaps ours, puts the best interest of their countrymen above that of others. Now our national interest certainly lies in not opening this Pandora’s box of intellectual property rights but dealing with real world issues that are more pressing and important such as tackling our high unemployment rates and the ongoing tax works.


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