Training on copyright issues and intellectual property, Tajikistan 2010

FMC Training in Dushanbe, 26 April 2010

Date: 26 April 2010
Place: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Venue: Bactria Cultural Center

In April 2010, the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) organized a training course for musicians, music institutions and festival organizers in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The event was mainly organized for Tajik musicians. However, the organizers invited several people from Bishkek as well. Cholponai Usubalieva-Gryshchuk represented the Aigine CRC at the training.

FMC is a national nonprofit education, research and advocacy organization and a TCF grantee based in Washington, DC. It was founded in June 2000 on the belief that artists must actively participate in the design of technologies and legal structures that determine how they will produce and be compensated for their work in the digital future. Therefore, the main aim of the training conducted in Dushanbe was to discuss the issue of marketing, intellectual property rights and challenges of the digital era.

Today, in the world of advanced technologies and digital equipment, some traditional musicians lost their way, since some of them do not know how to use the Internet and computer programs. Sometimes some traditional musicians are not aware of copyright and intellectual property issues. Therefore, the training organized by FMC was extremely useful for participants affiliated with music in any possible way.

One day prior to the training, the organizers conducted individual interviews with musicians and music institutions. Contemporary challenges in the musical field were widely discussed during the interviews. The representative of the Aigine CRC made a presentation on one of their ongoing projects entitled “Preserving and Transmitting Traditional Music.” The main goal of the project is to train the bearers and continuers of komuz(Kyrgyz traditional musical instrument) melodies in order to preserve and pass them on to future generations. The project is being carried out together with Nurak Abdrakhmanov, one of the most prominent komuzplayers in Kyrgyzstan.

As the Aigine CRC works with traditional musicians, practitioners and others, it was quite useful and informative for us to participate in the training. Comparative analysis of copyright issues in the United States, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan was one of the most interesting topics. Participants asked a number of basic questions during the panel discussion, which was a good, but on the other hand it was obvious that some people had no clear understanding of copyright issues.

The concept of copyright is relatively new for societies of Central Asia. One of the reasons for this might be the fact that songs, sayings, tales, and knowledge were transmitted by word of mouth from one generation to another. Nobody ever thought to claim a certain piece of work or information as his/her intellectual property, because people lived like a big family and shared everything with one another.

Consequently, learning more about copyright and intellectual property and modern-day digital and communication world from other Western musicians was quite useful for our artists. For instance, today the majority of Western musicians sell their artistic products online using special online services and utilities. However, our musicians do not have access to the Internet, or even if they do, they do not know about such services and do not know how to use them. This lack of knowledge with regard to many issues hinders the process of distributing and disseminating their works. The list of online utilities provided by the organizers was quite rich and hopefully will bring fruitful results for some of the participants.

Low awareness of our people about copyright issues became particularly noticeable during the panel discussion. The copyright attorney from Seattle, USA was struck by the content of the Law on Copyright and Intellectual Property in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. According to the attorney, provisions of the law on copyright in our counties are much more comprehensive, detailed and specified, while provisions of the law in the United States are too broad and general. Ironically, people have little information about copyright and intellectual property or the existing laws in their respective countries, and yet they have perfect legislation in this regard. If people had more information, then they would be able to use it for their own benefit. Certainly, it is the role of the government to work more closely with its people to raise their awareness about certain issues on the one hand, but on the other hand people also should be more willing and interested to study some of those aspects that are not known to them. It should work both ways.

However, it is good that there are certain organizations such as FMC which work to help musicians to find their way in the contemporary and rapidly developing digital world. In one short day, from noon till evening, many aspects of copyright issues and intellectual property, along with very useful online resources, were presented in a very comprehensive way to the participants. There is hope that the participants of the course will be able to organize other similar training courses in the future for their local communities and develop their skills and adapt to the new standards of the contemporary world.