EU assists Albania to enforce copyrights and promote economic and cultural growth (15/02/2012)
Tirana, 15 February 2012
The €800,000 project to strengthen respect of copyright and related rights in Albania came to an end today. Since August 2010, the project team has trained the Albanian Copyright Office (ACO) to better implement existing laws and has raised awareness of the importance of copyright and related rights for authors, businesses and society at large. Respecting the work of others, be it a book, a CD, a painting, software, or an architectural design, is key to fair competition, creativity and innovation.
Pirated works hurt the entire chain of economic operators and creators by diverting reward for works created away from their creators and mandated producers. Photocopying a book means that the author, the publisher and the employees of the publishing house do not reap the benefits of their labour, and end up discouraged from further artistic, literary or scientific work. Disrespect for copyrights directly hurts fair competition, jobs and growth, the promotion of which is especially important in times of crisis. Every year, EU customs stop several million products suspected of being counterfeited or pirated at the external borders of the EU. The scale of the trade of counterfeited goods is not possible without the involvement of organised crime. That means millions of euros of damage being caused to honest business, consumers, creativity and society at large.
To protect fair competition, honest business and creativity, the EU has taken action to protect intellectual property rights through legislation and enforcement mechanisms. The same is expected of countries aspiring for membership, like Albania. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the contract between the EU and Albania, specifies copyright protection as a requirement for Albania to make progress towards membership. The 2011 Progress Report concluded that legislation is yet to be completed, and enforcement of existing legislation remains weak. Furthermore, awareness of copyrights and related rights and the recognition of their value amongst economic operators and the general public in Albania is low, as indicated by the still low number of infringement cases brought before the Albanian justice system, and the widespread availability of pirated CDs, DVDs and other works in Albania. In addition, the community of authors and creators is not sufficiently informed about the benefits open to them from the enforcement of their rights.
This particular EU-funded project assisted in raising the capacities of the Albanian Copyright Office to implement current laws, and improve its cooperation with other stakeholders from Government institutions, state and judicial authorities, IP collecting agencies, business copyright users, media and NGOs. The project has also increased awareness of copyrights and related rights amongst users of protected works, rights holders, their representatives and the general public.
Speaking at the closing conference, the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi emphasised the need to step up efforts to improve legislation and enforcement mechanisms, pointing specifically to the clarification of the inspectorates that are mandated with carrying out inspections on copyrights. He also noted that while Albania may have a historical disadvantage with respect to copyrights in comparison to some other EU Member States, “it is the vision and will of both policy-makers and businesses that will fill Albania’s historical gap in copyrights. It is through its actions – through legislation and enforcement - that the government demonstrates its vision and will to educate the public on the importance of copyrights for the private and public good”.
Since 2008, the EU has dedicated about € 7.7 million from the money of the European taxpayer for intellectual property rights and copyrights, for consumer protection, for metrology and calibration, for market surveillance – all issues related to economic and social growth.
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