According to Intellectual Property Law Firms website (2010) "A copyright refers to a collection of exclusive rights to display, distribute, disseminate, and do other functions to one's original, creative work.Â A copyright can be for a design, a story, a song; almost anything that is creative, original." Some people say that the protection of copyright of products is a legal responsibility of the government and some others may say it is an ethical responsibility of the ordinary people. However, this issue is concerned with both sides of the government and the ordinary people. Through adopting a strict copyright protection laws by governments, and creating an ethical culture by people that doesn't tend to copy others creative work, we will respect the creators/inventors hard work and encourage them to use their continue the use of, and even enhance, their creativity for the benefit of the whole society. Iraqi Kurdistan Region is one of the places where neither there's a copyright protection law in the constitution nor the people has grown the culture of respecting others' creativities and innovation. If you just take a quick look at the recording shops and on the ordinary streets of downtown, you can find copied CDs and DVDs of all kinds of original products, including music CDs of any singer that you like to listen.
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Artists, such as singers, are one of the most prominent victims of the lack of a Copyright protection law in Kurdistan. When singers want to record their music album or when they want to make a video clip for their songs, they must be so rich and, not only do not think about making an interest, but also be sure that, almost every time, they do not get back the cost album recordings. That's because as soon as an album becomes available in the market, CD sellers make cheap copies from the original CD of the album. For example, Dana Abdul-Jabbar, a Kurdish singer, in an interview with the Kurdish Globe paper, mentions "Since 2006, I have not made any video clips for my songs due to financial reasons. The cost of my 2006 album was US$12,000, after I distributed the album to music stores; sales for the original copy were only US$1,000 because music stores illegally copied my album. I know some stores sold 3,000 copies." (Kurdish Globe. 2009). Dana Abdul-Jabbar is one of the popular singers, and well-known for his unique songs due to having a modern and still Kurdish-originated singing style that can be seen in both the tone of his music and his video clips. His works can give a good fame to the Kurdish music in particular and the Kurdish Arts in general both by giving some significant advancement to the Kurdish music style. However, the lack of respecting copyright in Kurdistan will make a singer, like Dana Abdul-Jabbar, not only can make a living with his occupation but he is gradually being discouraged from his creative work and become less, or no more, productive for the society's advancement; i.e. advancement in Kurdish music.
The first and most significant step to solve Copyright problem in Kurdistan is to be taken by the Government. Government has to pass strict laws that would fine or even imprison anyone who copy other's work such as copying singer's CDs. The Kurdish Globe writes "An official at Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Culture for legal affairs, Massoud Mustafa, said two years ago the ministry had sent a draft law about copyrighting to Kurdistan Region Parliament, but there has been no response." (Kurdish Globe, 2009). On the other hand, the officials from Kurdistan Government claim that they do not have enough time to talk about the legislation a Copyright law. The Kurdish Globe (2009) also mentioned "The head of the Cultural Committee in Kurdistan Parliament, Arez Abdullah, informed their paper that Parliament received the draft law. However, Parliament has too many other more drafts to discuss.
Government can pass a law that prohibits the buying and selling of copied CDs, such as intercepting CD shops owners from copying and selling original CDs, as well as intercepting people who may buy them. According to an article from CNN News (2003), companies argue that produce copying CDs, argue that people have the right to copy DVDs for personal use in case their DVDs are lost or damaged. They, for instance, argue "It says teachers use its software to copy parts of a DVD for presentations to classes or seminars." The CD shop owners may bring this as a justification for copying original CDs. However, in order to maintain copies of the CDs/DVDs that people buy, there's no need for a shop to do that for you, rather the consumers themselves can do it in other ways, such as keeping a copy in their PC. In some other cases, a consumer can buy two copies or more in order to use one copy and save the other one in case if losing or damaging the used one.
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The second side which has to be blamed for violating Artists' rights; that's to say, copying their music products, is the ordinary people. However, this side includes two categories, the people who consume those products and the people who sell the products. The sellers of CDs and DVDs are from a category of people who many of them tend to sell copied of pirated products rather than the original ones. Their products may include any kind of fake copies of the original ones, like software, movies and music. The website of Voice of America writes "One study shows that in Vietnam, 85 percent of software is illegal. This shop owner sells unlicensed copies of movies and music on a street filled with pirated CD and DVD shops." (Laput, P. 2009). In Kurdistan region, almost, all CD shop owners are violating the copyright of singers, sometimes secretly but mostly publicly. There are many CD shops in Hawler, for instance, that almost all of their CDs are copied versions of almost any artists that you want to find, from the local artists to almost any foreign artist. For this action, neither the Kurdish government feels responsibility to intercept it nor do the shop owners have the tendency to give it up. The reason is because selling copied CDs are much lucrative that selling original copies of them, and while there's no government interception, shop owners are tending to make the most profit out of it. The second side of people, who are responsible for copyright violation, are the consumers. Some people in Kurdistan may not to have royalty for the hard work and creativity of others. Many people, in Kurdistan, tend to buy copied CDs rather than the original ones. That's because the copied CDs are much cheaper than the original one; one copied CD may cost 500-750 Iraqi Dinars (less than a Dollar!). However, the price of an original CD may not be so expensive but the people still seeks for products which are as cheap as possible, regardless to the owner of the product. For example, when the last album of the Kurdish popular singer, Zakaria Abdulla, was released in 2008, it only cost me 3000 Dinars (~2$) to buy an original copy of it, and now it may costs only 2000 Dinars or less. However, most of the people have lack of the sense of loyalty to the hardship and creativities of other people, despite the fact that people might be big fans of those artists!
In conclusion, both sides of government and people have to feel responsibility about copyright protection. It's a great ethical responsibility for the people to respect the creativity others. Bill Thompson, an analyst, in his writing for BBC News, argues "I have never bought a music file online, even though I am a big music fan. I do not do it because I do not want music files which are crippled by the digital rights management tools that every online store uses to limit what purchasers can do with the songs they buy. I do not do it because much of the music I want to listen to is available as a CD for around the same cost." (Thompson, B. 2004). Also, the CD sellers have an ethical responsibility to sell the original copies of CDs rather than just concentrating on their profit-making. On the other hand, Patrick Ross (2009) argues that the one who has to be blamed is the government. Ross argues "All cultures are driven by copyright, and in the modern age communities grow their culture through strong copyright law. Kurdish artists deserve more than what their leaders are giving them. They deserve a right to succeed or fail based on their talent and execution of rights." Therefore, for the sake of creating a constructive culture among the people as well as in order to prevent those who tend to violate copyright, the Kurdish government has to pass strict laws and seriously work to make sure that they would be implemented. According to CNN News (2009), French lawmakers say "the legislation would impose fines of up to 300,000 euros -- the equivalent of about $440,000 -- as well as possible prison terms for the illegal download of films or music." The law that Kurdistan region Governments may pass, can be something like of what French government passed. The French law is implemented on those who illegally download others' products like music, but in Kurdistan it can be implemented on those who illegally make copies of others' works like singers' music CDs.
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