Plagiarism As An Offence
Please allow me to express this opinion and share my thoughts with concerned citizens and those interested in the promotion and protection of intellectual property (IP) Laws, especially Copyright and Related Rights Laws on allegations of our proposed constitution been heavily plagiarised, through lifting of chapters from a certain foreign constitution.
I don’t need to go into specifics of the chapters and sections alleged to have been lifted, but its common knowledge for every student, especially went through higher education that, plagiarism is an offence in almost all educational set up and it often attracts severe punishment for those found wanted, through various means including expulsion from school, cancellation of the work involved both exams and other academic works.
This opinion sought among others, to general debate on matters as the fate of our intellectual property laws or regime and their role towards averting such issues as the subject matter at hand, spur the Gambian populace into the world of creativity and innovation in line with the right to self-determination as per Article 1 of UN International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights.
All acts of parliament now National Assembly were at one point or the other sponsored by the state, through tax payer’s money for a purpose, including our intellectual property laws such as Industrial Property Act and Copyright Act, hence the need for them not to gather dust and be left hopeless, inactive and compromised in the face of offences or potential offences being committed right under them.
Matters of plagiarism is seriously punished across the globe, especially in the academic world for the fact that it is against the spirit of hard work, innovation and creativity, which has multiple effects of retarding sustainable development objectives at individual and collective level.
As such, allegations of plagiarism did not only constitute an offence in academic world, but also intellectual theft or intellectual dishonesty, hence the need for clarification as the constitution once endorsed, shall be the supreme law of The Gambia.
The Gambia like other countries across the globe, both developed and developing countries has laws governing matters of plagiarism and other related issues affecting the growth and sustenance of intellectual property and these are either found in Industrial Property Laws or Copyright and Related Rights Laws.
As a reference point, Section 11(1)(a-c) of the 2004 Copyright Act, Cap 95;02, Volume 15, Laws of The Gambia, provided what many called ‘employed authors’ and that such copyright works shall be vested in the employer or person who commissioned the work.
This must be balance against the works of Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), assigned among other things to produce the subject matter alleged to have been heavily plagiarised.
Whereas section 12(1)(a-b) therein provided for works made by Government of The Gambia and International bodies in the following terms, that copyright of such works shall be vested in the president for and on behalf of people of The Gambia, as relates to works made by Government of The Gambia. Whereas work (s) made by International body or bodies such copyright is vested in them.
Again this should be also contrasted with the just revised constitution conducted by the CRC under the sponsorship and supervision of the Government of The Gambia, through the CRC Act, Laws of The Gambia.
Article 2(4) of 1886 Berne Convention for protection of literary and artistic works, left protection of official text, including constitutions, acts of Parliament (National Assembly) and other official documents as a matter for legislation in the countries of the Union to determine the protection to begranted to such official texts as legislative, administrative among others.
As a concerned citizen, interested in matters of intellectual property promotion at both academic and none academic level, is deeply aware, alerted and appreciative of the important role play by intellectual property (IP) law, especially Copyright and Related Rights dealing with legal rights of artistic, cultural players and creative industries towards sustainable development of any given nation across the globe, including developing countries like The Gambia
I am further aware of the objectives of intellectual property law, especially Copyright Related Rights which are not limited to protection and promotion of economic development through industrialization, but also provides strong incentives for investment in research and development resulting in innovation, industrial growth and economic progress of nations, thus the benefits of having an effective Intellectual Property (IP) regime.
I am also aware of the fact that, these objectives could only be fully utilized by countries equipped with trained scientific and technical personnel along with adequate basic industrial infrastructure.
It is time for The Gambia to exploit its intellectual property right industries, which shall not only give assurances of attaining the desired sustainable development objectives of the country, through massive investment in research and development related projects, but also bringing the much needed technology transfer for the interest and welfare of all.
Global statistics shows and confidentially affirmed that current leading employers in the world comes from technology related firms, companies and institutions and this has proven to be true for The Gambia without pointing out the names of such technology related establishments.
Intellectual Property is becoming the world’s leading intangible assets, attracting investment by both public and private sector, hence governments such as Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa and others did not hesitate in the promotion and protection of their locally produce items and tagged them either as Geographical Indications or trademarks to enable them have global visibility and bargaining power attracting greater economic return for farmers and the country at large.
IP industries of The Gambia did not stop at performing and literary or book related production, the country is blessed with one of the finest brains when it comes to inventions and other creative and innovation related matters, hence the need for having the right environment tapping those untapped brains for our collective and individual development as a nation, moving at par with the rest of the world.
As such, matters of Intellectual Property (IP) infringement shall be a business for all, aware of the need to have more creative and innovative minds meant to achieve objectives for attainment of our independence on 18th February 1965, and the task that goes with such historic achievement resting on our shoulders as Gambians.
By Sanna Jawara, New Jeshwang