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In local movies piracy matter…

Prosecution fires back at defence

By Hawa Amara 

The prosecution, led by Superintendent M.B. Kamara, last Friday responded to the preliminary objection by the defence in respect of the alleged matter of piracy of local movies. The defence had submitted a preliminary objection in a previous hearing on 27th January that the charges under which the accused are arraigned are contrary to section 78 of the Copyright Act, which provides that disputing parties should exhaust avenues of arbitration before they could resort to litigation.

However, Superintendent Kamara submitted that section 78 of the Act relates to the dispute under the Act rather that allegations pertaining to criminal offences committed under the provision.

He said the charges pertain to allegations against unauthorised persons caught selling, offering for sale, production and distribution of property which was never created by them and for which they were not authorized to touch or sell.

He submitted that the word ‘parties’ does not, cannot, and will never be included in the provisions of the Act, as parties refers to those persons who have rights to copyright claims by virtue of moral right, license or genuine right, according to the Copyright Act of 2011.

He also submitted that it was against public policy to permit persons to negotiate criminal offences, adding that “we have the court of law and custodial sentence”.

He said it was never the intension of Parliament to give persons the right to negotiate criminal cases as well as the right of any settlement of criminal offence committed against the state.

While responding to the response by the prosecution, presiding Magistrate Komba Kamanda said that having listened to both submissions, it was his considered view that Parliament did not intend that copyright pirates should not negotiate with rightful owners, thus the matter should continue in the lower court because it was a preliminary investigation.

It could be recalled that three accused persons – Abass Kamara, Gibrilla Kamara and Osman Jalloh – are arraigned on 151 counts of conspiracy to commit felony, distributing copyright property, selling copyright property and infringement, contrary to section 71(1)(a) of the Copyright Act of 2011, after they were allegedly caught on offering for sale and distributing copyright movies without the authorization of the producers, on 11th January on Wilberforce Street in Freetown.

Meanwhile, lead defence counsel A.K. Musa renewed his bail application, but Magistrate Kamanda again refused the accused bail. The matter continues.