Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) will strengthen work in African journalism around ethics and authors’ rights including establishing, where appropriate, regional actions to highlight the importance of authors’ rights protection.

Mr Gabriel Abaglo, the General Secretary of FAJ, said the organisation with the support of the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) would to create more awareness about copyright/author’s right.

He said they would create a targeted online training module on the issues of authors’ rights protection and creating a newsroom culture of respect for rights-protected works in journalistic work.

He said the training programme would focus on the challenges posed by digital technologies and the importance of respect for the moral and economic rights of creators of material used in journalistic work.

Mr Abaglo made the disclosure on Tuesday in his presentation at a pre-event roundtable on the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day in Accra.

The pre-event was on the theme “Authors/Journalists Rights in Africa”, was attended by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Executives and senior editors.

Other panel members included; Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, the Chairperson, Editors Forum of Ghana and a Columnist of The Mirror Weekly; Mr Zakaria Tanko, Journalism Lecturer, Barrister and Copyright Specialists; Mr Korieh Duodu, Barrister and Media Specialist; and Mr Ebo Hawkson, Reporter, Daily Graphic.

The panel discussion sought to develop an African perspective to the issue of copyright in the media.

Mr Baglo said the issue of copyright in the media had been hard to address in Africa; adding that with the digital age there were more difficulties addressing copyright, and litigating took a long time (10-15 years) to get cases heard and redressed in court.

He said copyright or author’s right was usually seen by the journalist as an issue that affected only artists and writers.

“The journalists do not figure out that their stories and productions are their own creation/production and that they deserve to enjoy and protect the rights related to them,” he said.

He said from the 1990s, important media groups had established and had been operating in Africa, each of them with newspaper(s), radio station(s), television station(s) and online media.

He noted that reporters and media workers saw their stories and productions being carried in each of these media outlets of the groups without the authors enjoying the benefits related, or without proper and clear contract stating the benefits for the author or even credited for their work.

He said in order to address the issue, from 2003 they had engaged in Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with employers and governments in many countries in Africa.

He said most of the CBAs had provisions for copyright and authors’ rights, which were to be implemented and mentioned that news editors were not sensitised enough on the issue, or do not support newsrooms to uphold copyright; adding that “reporters are afraid to take up the challenge with their employers, or to litigate for fear of losing their jobs”.

He said upholding copyright (authors’ rights) for media practitioners (journalists/reporters/producers) would also help improve the living conditions of media workers whose salaries were usually low in the region.

With respect to economic rights, Mr Baglo said the journalist transferred the right on primary use of his/her work to the employer and the other dimension of the copyright issue was when reporters/journalists used materials of other colleagues in their work illegally/illicitly; declaring that “that was tantamount to plagiarism”.

On the way forward Mr Baglo recommended sensitisation/training that involved online programmes for journalists and urged journalists to exercise their copyright; and that journalists’ unions/associations should campaign on copyright.

He also suggested self-regulation to campaign for ethics, against plagiarism; and to engage mediation for redress when copyright was violated, noting that litigation should be the last option, due to the long time it took to get redressed in court.

Mr Chris Elliot, Director, EJN, said EJN is an alliance of reporters, editors and publishers aiming to strengthen journalism around the world.

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