THE Western Musicians and Entertainers Association has applauded the government for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Fiji Intellectual Property Office (FIPO) and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority.
"This is a big step forward for musicians, artists, composers and the music business as a whole as we have been robbed of our livelihood and intellectual property by pirate illegal operators for a very long time," said association president Gilman Lasaisuva.
"We are aware of more than 300 pirate shops deliberately taking part in this illegal activity of selling our CDs and DVDs either locally or globally.
"They also neglect the payment of VAT and income tax to the government, they do not pay royalty to the original owners of the copyright and at the same time they deprive the government and artists from generating a lucrative amount of revenue.
"This is a serious offence."
The association claims there are more pirate shops than original music retail shops and that one of the major music retailing companies in Fiji had closed about 16 outlets.
"This has created a wide gap of unemployment and loss of revenue for us," the association said.
"Piracy has gone too far and needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. We sincerely hope law enforcers will take action where needed, either through raiding these shops or delivering the matter to court."
The association is a collective group that includes musicians, artists, entertainers, performers and sound engineers.
Association secretary Homer Fare said the inability of previous governments to monitor and prosecute music pirates was a regressive attitude of policymakers of our past.
"Sadly, most of our top recording artists like Dan Costello, Black Rose, Devine, Gilman Lasaisuva and the recording music business have struggled financially for the past 20 years because the sales of our original products have drastically dropped," he said.
"More than 3000 musicians and composers or artists over the years have been negatively affected by music piracy and some have even turned away from the music business and gone into other income-generating sources for survival, for example, farming, fishing, and even worse, engaging in criminal activities, or joining the unemployment line.
"It is such a waste of music talent and resources."