BMDA protests Bensaid’s reform project in the House of Representatives

The disagreements between Moroccan legislators, members of the executive, and the Moroccan Office for Copyrights (BMDA) continue, as the Ministry of Culture pushes its quest to reform the office further in the face of artists’ union protests.

This Thursday, the House of Representatives hosted a meeting that gathered members of parliamentary teams and groups and representatives of the representatives from the federation of artist unions.

The meeting came after the Education, Culture, and Communication Committee of the House of Representatives decided to postpone deciding on amendments and voting on a draft law aiming to reform the BMDA until June 21, after an agreement with the Minister of Youth and Culture.

The postponement aims to deepen consultations on this reform project, after Minister of Culture Mehdi Bensaid’s proposal was met with great protest from artist representatives.

According to a Hespress AR source that attended the meeting, representatives of the Technical Syndicates Coordination reiterated their rejection of the contents of the draft Law, and called for an alternative to Bensaid’s proposal.

The official had given a presentation back in early April on the bill, which aims to reform the legislative basis for the BDMA’s management, at the end of the legislative session.

Through this bill, the Minister aims to restructure the Office and rebuild it on a “transparent and clear basis,” allowing it to carry out its expected duties of protecting Moroccan creatives from illegal uses of their artistic outputs.

But the most controversial amendment, and the one that solicited artists’ concern, was that the text will transform the office into a financially independent authority while providing the BMDA with a board of directors chaired by a government actor, which according to its Article 8 would be the Ministry of Culture.

This shift would put the office under the Ministry’s control and supervision. Surprisingly, artist unions vehemently opposed the bill, as five representative bodies issued a joint statement on April 15, rejecting the BMDA bill, calling it “rushed,” and unaware of the craft’s “particularities.”

The unions have repeatedly claimed that activating the legislation may result in “the state’s censorship of the arts and artists,” maintaining the office should stay autonomous and remain outside the Ministry of Culture’s jurisdiction.

A Hespress AR source from the Coordination of Artists’ Unions said that “the meeting was an occasion to reaffirm our view regarding the unconstitutionality of the project brought by the Ministry of Culture, and an occasion to confirm our demand to form the structure of the BMDA with people detaining copyrights based on free elections.”

However, the younger generation of Moroccan artists is more optimistic and supportive of Bensaid’s project than the unionists. In an interview with Hespress EN, sources active in the fields of music confirmed that the movement to enlist the BMDA as a Ministry supervised body is growing, amid rampant claims of the office’s “misuse” of its annual MAD 200 million budget.

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