07.07.2011, Words by Charlie Jones

Google and WIPO team up to help West African countries break into global music industry

New digital platform will shake up the licensing system and make it easier for West African musicians to get noticed.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is teaming up with Google (you’ve heard of that, right?) to create a music registry system for 11 West African countries.

This voluntary system will mean that artists in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo will be able to register and store their work across a streamlined digital platform. Google are to form the technological side of the partnership in developing the web-based system.

Right now, artists in these African countries have to have a producer or director who wants to license their work for specific use in order to register their rights to their work within their country. This incurs huge administrative costs, and a difficult search for a producer or director who will license their music.

Under the new structure, artists will be able to register their work throughout the participating countries, with greater freedom of information flowing between them. Finding rights-holders and creators will be a much quicker and cheaper process, taking the stressful administration out of the creative process. Radio stations and consumers will also benefit from ease of access to West African music.

The project, according to Senegal’s head of copyright Diabe Siby, “has the potential to enable developing countries to participate more fully and effectively in the benefits of the global music industry.”

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