The Audio Visual Rights Society of Ghana (ARSOG) has filed close to 100 writs against some major hotels and transport operators in the country as a result of their failure to pay royalties due to ARSOG for onward payment to its members.
The legal counsel for ARSOG and a copyright expert based in Accra, J. A Larkai of Prudential Law Offices, says ARSOG decided to seek legal action against defaulting hoteliers and transport operators after persistent futile efforts to get the defaulters to pay the royalties.
He added that some of the hotels were initially paying but have stopped hence the pursuit of legal redress. The writs have been filed in courts in Accra, Kumasi and Koforidua, he said.
He indicated that although ARSOG had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ghana Hotels Association which empowered the GHA to collect compromised royalties from hoteliers on behalf of ARSOG the Association has not been able to get its members to make payments hence the decision to proceed to court.
According to Mr. Larkai, now that the matter has reached the courts, ARSOG’S published tariffs will be enforced against the defaulters. Regarding shops, salons and restaurants, pubs and all other public places where films are made available to the public, ARSOG is engaging them through their respective associations before proceeding to court if they prove recalcitrant.
He said what ARSOG is claiming through the courts is outstanding royalties’ due ARSOG from 2014 to 2016 adding that he subsequently expects that all defaulting users of movies protected by copyright will voluntarily obtain licences from ARSOG for 2017 and for subsequent years.
The lawyer for ASORG added that ASORG had been pushed to go to court but ARSOG was amenable to out of court settlement.
The Chairman of ARSOG, Richard Prempeh indicated that ARSOG is not and does not intend to adopt an antagonistic posture regarding commercial users of movies who are regarded as partners for the growth of the movie industry.
He said on the other hand, the welfare of ARSOG members who deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour is also at stake in the exploitation of benefits of their work.
Mr Prempeh is of the view that as the hotels, transport operators and other users benefit from the use of the movies, the owners of the rights of these movies also deserve their due.
ARSOG was established in 2011 to protect the rights of movie makers in Ghana and is governed by an eleven member board. The organization distributes royalties it collects from commercial users of movies to its members.