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ACA2K Executive Policy Brief: Ghana

3. Legal, Regulatory and Policy Recommendations

First, as a practical matter, the research team recommends the creation of channels of communication among copyright stakeholders (especially those identified in this study) in order to address concerns about the lack of involvement of certain key stakeholders in copyright decision-making in Ghana. Through such channels of communication, copyright administration could be improved. This would also build trust among private owners and public users of copyright materials so as to make copyright administration more effective.

The media should also take responsibility for the task of educating the public about the details of copyright protection in Ghana. This education, unlike the campaigns promoted by some influential parties thus far, should not be skewed in favour of private rights-holders. It should also promote the public interest in terms of access to teaching and learning materials in Ghana.

Local publishing companies, such as the Ghana Universities Press, should be promoted, in order to achieve a sustainable local book industry. Furthermore, reducing taxes on materials used for publishing books locally could reduce the price of books in Ghana. This would make the local book industry become more competitive.

Universities and private rights-holders should collaboratively begin to develop ‘access guides’ in the research institutions in order to regulate photocopying activities in ways that take full advantage of the copyright exceptions and limitations under the law and also in order to educate students and researchers about copyright restrictions. The universities should disclaim liability, via the guide, for non-permitted photocopying activities on their campuses.

The Attorney-General’s Department should start fresh and open dialogue on copyright to solicit views from all stakeholders before passing the Copyright L.I. The outcome of such a dialogue should influence the content of the L.I. on copyright administration in Ghana. Also the L.I. must flesh out the scope of free use, including the meaning of the term ‘substantial’ in Section 19 of the Copyright Act, so that the public will know the limits of free use.

Subject-based collective societies should be established in Ghana. Subject-based copyright administration would avoid the confusion currently surrounding the collective management system and would enable educational institutions and researchers to know where to seek permission when they want to exceed the limits of permitted use under the Act. Ensuring accountability in those collective societies will also serve as a morale booster for the public when paying for use beyond what is free under the law.

The universities, as primary users of learning materials, should participate in policy decisions on copyright. There should be recognition that the universities play an important role in the copyright system. In order to contribute to policy debates, the universities may need internal legal offices as part of the library systems, which would advise on copyright issues. Indeed, it is erroneous for any academic or research institution to assume that it cannot be held liable for excess photocopying by students and unofficial photocopier operators on their campuses. The private universities could also join the public universities’ library consortium (CARLIGH) in order to procure learning and research materials at a cheaper cost.

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