A GROUP of local musicians believe government should strengthen anti-piracy laws by imposing a decree that enforces a mandatory sentence of at least three months imprisonment for the offenders.
While commending the anti-piracy laws, the group of local artists who met at the Procera Music Shops headquarters in Suva on Friday said the laws were not enforced.
"We strongly believe this punishment will deter offenders who have over the years robbed us of millions of dollars of our hard work in producing Fiji made products as far as the music industry is concerned," said the group's spokesman and Rootstrata band leader, Freddie Fesaitu.
The group consists of Fesaitu, Seru Serevi and Ronald Jai to name a few artists who say they continue to incur huge losses in the sale of their music at the hands of shop operators around Fiji engaged in piracy.
Procera manager Mohammed Akif said they had closed shops in Taveuni, Sigatoka and Tavua and had to lay-off five workers as customers were opting for illegal copies of local artists' albums.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the government had already strengthened anti-piracy laws in Fiji by reversing the burden of truth, in this case the infringer having to prove the audio compact disc was not a pirate, making it easier for prosecution.
"Their frustration obviously is understandable but having mandatory sentencing is not the answer," he said.
"Most people are first time offenders.
"The onus is generally on the members of the public also to respect the original works of our local artists.
"In respect of the lack of speed in terms of prosecuting piracy, we are dealing with a legacy issue.
"It's been allowed to happen for decades. We are working together through Fiji Intellectual Property Office, the Copyright Tribunal and also through police to build capacity," said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.