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Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands music is exploding across the world but artists are being exploited at home

One of the top music groups in Solomon Islands, DMP. Photo: supplied

Solomon Islands music is making headway locally and internationally despite a lack of legislations including copyright law to protect musicians and artists’ products.

Recently, Doorman’s Project (DMP) made it to top three in the Djooky Music Awards, the world’s largest music competition which in terms of global reach is bigger than Eurovision with over 2369 nominations from 129 countries.

DMP won for the Best Reggae song while band member Mostyn Hani, known by the stage name ‘Mossa’, also won the Best Afrobeat song this season.

Previously artists like Apprentice, Unisound, Saba, Sharzy, Natty D, Dezine, Jaro Local, Young Davie and others have also highlighted the success of the Solomon Islands in the region.

However, local musicians lose deserved income due to a lack of protection.

The gap in legislation allows radio stations to play their songs freely without signing any agreements with artists, while other artists exploit those who are achieving popularity by duplicating their songs and selling them in the open market.

Conversely, most other nations have collective societies that look after artists’ rights.

Natty Dolaiasi, who has been involved in traditional and contemporary music for the last 30 years, said Solomon Islands needed proper Copyright law and Intellectual Property legislation.

Dolaiasi said it was vital that whatever artists produce or share needs to be protected because it relates to culture and tradition.

He said a lack of legislation forces artists to go on their own to earn money from their songs through creating networks to market their products.

Music artist, David Bogese (Young Davie) has also called for legislation to protect musicians so that they can take people to court who steal their products and make money out of them.

Bogese claimed someone registered his song online and sold it to Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and other sites.

“I managed to track it and asked the person to remove it online.

“I now register my songs with international organisations like APRA to protect them,” he said.

However, Bogese said if there was a law in place, it will give weight to musicians to sue people practicing this illegal act.

The Solomon Islands Music Federation (SIMF) is aware of the problem and say they are taking steps to address the gap in legislation and want to protect artists.

But SIMF interim president Dennis Marita said the lack of political will by members of Parliament to drive the copyright law is an issue.

Marita, also Director of Culture in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said there is a Copyright Act 1987 but it is outdated and needs to be reviewed.

He called on the Government to push the legislation now because artists have lost out for many years.

However Marita, who has held the interim president for SIMF since 2015, said there has been some progress, pointing to the endorsement of the Intellectual Property National Strategy in 2018.

“The objective of the changing IP strategy for Solomon Islands is to use intellectual property as tools to enhance the economic, social and technological development of Solomon Islands,” he explained.

As a result, he said there is an Intellectual Property office based at the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.

Further to that, Mr Marita said work on the intellectual property legislation is also progressing.

He believed there needs to be a collective society established to deal exclusively with the economic benefits (royalties) and economic rights of local musicians, similar to Fiji Performers Rights Association, Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society.

“SIMF can set up Solomon Islands Performers Rights Association (SIPRA) to protect the songs of artists broadcast in radio stations and ensure artists receive financial reward.”

The current executive led by Vincent Anisi said they intend to continue the good work left by Mr Marita to ensure Solomon Islands music soars to a new height.

According to Primo Afeau Legal Service, the current Intellectual Property Legislation has its origins in the 1990s, and does not adequately accommodate or embrace the Internet era.

In addition, much of the legislative schemes still rely on the now repealed English legislation, but extended by the United Kingdom at the Solomon Islands request.

The new SIMF Committee has been encouraged to work harder with relevant stakeholders to push for copyright law to be enacted, given the increasing popularity of Solomon Islands’ musicians in the region and world now.

The following regulates Intellectual Property in the Solomon Islands:

1. Copyright Act 1987 (Cap 138);

2. Patents Act 1949 (Cap 87) and the Registration of United Kingdom Patents Act (Cap 179);

3. Registration of United Kingdom Trade Marks Act (Cap 180);

4. United Kingdom Designs (Protection) Act (Cap 181); and

5. Telecommunication Act 2009 (which includes provisions for a Domain name registry service).

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