By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah, Sr.
MONROVIA: Precisely two years today, on August 17, 2020, Mr. Prince Emmanuel Decker took the oath of office, as Executive Director of the Copyright Society of Liberia (COSOL).
Minutes after his induction, Decker promised to rebrand Liberia’s creative industry by way of adding value to creativity for wealth creation.
At the time, some stakeholders rated him off and took his commitment as a mere bluff.
Those who doubted Decker’s leadership expertise and commitment to change the narrative of an industry that had gone dormant for more than five decades may have had genuine reasons.
However, from the current look of things, the man, Prince Emmanuel Decker, is bound to be captured on the beginning page of the historic book of the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO).
As an expert of Intellectual Property Law, Decker who once served as Special Assistant in the office of LIPO’s Director General, Cllr. P. Adelyn Cooper, was only empowered with regulation LIPO/COSOL/CR/001/2009 under Title 24, Liberia Code of Law Revised, referred to as the “Intellectual Property Act of 2016” which recognizes COSOL as LIPO’s Secretariat.
With just a paperwork on the (LIPO/COSOL/CR/001/2009) regulation, and without any personnel but with a single room office space, Decker was charged with the responsibility to use his vast professional knowledge and hands-on experience to restore Liberia’s creative industry to vibrancy and for the subsequent economic benefits of Liberia’s creative actors.
Recounting his memory on the eve of COSOL’s 2nd Anniversary Decker said told our reporter: “Looking back two years ago on August 17, 2020, is like a dream come true.”
“When we took the helm of authority, we were provided an office that was not even spacious enough to host our various departments and a regulation that established the Copyright Society of Liberia.
“These were the things we were given to run the secretariat that is charged with the duties to collect and distribute royalty.”
Decker said all relevant ingredients that were needed to ensure that COSOL carries out its mandate as the only Collective Management Organization in Liberia were lacking. They ranged from legal framework, low human resource capacity, poor public awareness.
He pointed out that despite the daunting challenges, he and his team remained focused. The team began its journey by crafting a policy framework that would ensure the implementation of institution’s mandate.
The mandate also included structuring a business purpose climate wherein value can be added to Liberia’s artistic industry.
Decker Said: “We did the legal framework, although nothing is hundred percent perfect, but we can substantially say the current framework can only be improved upon because all of the basic ingredients were covered.”
He disclosed that within the period of twenty-four months, COSOL had managed to relocate from a single room office space to a suitable structure that accommodates more than seven offices including a conference hall and vehicles parking lot.
The COSOL boss named investment in intense public awareness and sensitization as one of the major reasons for COSOL’s success in the two years under review.
Decker also considered COSOL’s Legal Aid Program aimed at providing legal guidance for creative artists as one of his major achievements.
According to Decker, while he works for the Government of Liberia (GoL), one of his primary duties is to provide protection for local artists who are the most disenfranchised marketers of intellectual contents.
The COSOL boss mentioned that as a legal petitioner, he has developed nearly twenty templates of contractual theories to suit any given situation with the goal to guide owners of creative contents in contract negotiations.
He mentioned the ongoing business module with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) as one of the major factors helping to boost compliance.
According to him, COSOL’s collaboration with the ministry has put into place mechanisms wherein importers of transmittable materials are required to seek copyright certificate before the issuance of Import Permit Declaration (IPD).
According to Decker, the collection of fees from importers of blank tapes is geared towards ensuring that owners of creative contents get economic benefits for their intellectual properties that are been translated on blank transmittable devices.
He pointed out that importers are earmarked for this payment because COSOL does not regulate private users.
Decker considered the COSOL’s two-year existence as a success story as the entity is poised to maximize the implementation of its statutory mandate including the collection and distribution of royalty.
“When I took the oath of office two years ago, I mentioned that before my first contractual arrangement expire with LIPO, we will pay royalty and many said it was not possible. “Today, we are poised to start the collection of royalty on schedule,” he assured.