The multi-billion-dollar threat to the worldwide entertainment and communications industries came under the spotlight at an anti-piracy symposium hosted by Afrotopia Creative hub in partnership with MultiChoice Zimbabwe.

The event was held in Harare this month, with professionals from a wide range of backgrounds sharing their concerns about the threat. Liz Dziva, publicity and public relations manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe said there was consensus that the threat was real, growing and had the potential to significantly disable the industries affected by pirates active in software, music, film and television, literature and other fields of endeavour. She said:

We were united in our shared concern that piracy is on the increase and that there is a need to take action now to prevent further loss of legitimate business, not just here in Zimbabwe but right across the world.

MultiChoice Africa has long supported anti-piracy lobbying and action, and its senior anti-piracy manager, Tobias Maja, attended the symposium to air his views and highlight what could be done by professionals united in determination.

The event was themed Think Before You Click – Creatives Against Piracy, with three-segment focuses: piracy, the digital wave and the state of music consumption; the cost of it all – film, TV and photography piracy; and literature and software piracy. Said Dziva:

We heard that the piracy problem is causing the world’s legitimate businesses in these areas more than US$71 billion a year in losses, with massive impact on businesses and livelihoods, as well as to contribute to GDP and national revenue streams

It was agreed that the problem was huge but not unbeatable and that, by working together, committed businesses and people could seriously undermine the pirates and their destructive agenda. Said Dziva:

We need every citizen to acknowledge the problem and the lack of morality contained in the very nature of piracy, which is theft, pure and simple.

And we need communities, sectors and countries to tackle the problem as a united front, which will render them collectively capable of defeating piracy and facilitating legitimate business with its many benefits and its strong moral foundation.

MultiChoice Africa supports the Partners Against Piracy movement, which campaigns internationally against the problem and works on finding solutions that turn the tide. She said:

The sectors involved and the people who work legitimately are united, and we need to bring the consumers behind us, eliminating both any apathy and support that ordinary consumers may have for piracy.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe looks forward to ongoing advocacy, action and the eventual elimination of the problem and we will do our best to contribute to the awareness that must be created of the problem, its current effects and its potential effects if it is allowed to continue and to grow, which could well be the destruction of the sectors affected.

We were delighted with the symposium and with the level of discussion, debate and ideas that resulted from the get-together of like-minded professionals.

The participants included filmmakers, people in the music business, ICT professionals and people from many other backgrounds, as well as other partners from the public and private sector, such as the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association and the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust.