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Youths must protect intellectual property



It was a show that had viewers everywhere enthralled. Delivering romance, mystery, and very often comical relief Take Me To My Crush was a locally produced show that for once made good viewing. The best part? One did not need a television. A mobile phone was fine as it aired both on YouTube and Facebook. It has been three months since the last episode aired. And while we waited with bated breath there has been no word from the team on when we can expect the next episode. What we now have, however, is a production from the Lesotho National Broadcasting Service called “Pelo e ja serati”, a show that is based on somewhat similar premises with certain caveats of course. Pelo e ja serati also became an instant hit. It seems the public enjoy Cupid-like productions. I will admit that when I first heard of Pelo e ja serati I did think to myself that it sounded a little more than comfortably close to the aforementioned Take Me To My Crush. But I did not dwell on that. Fast forward a few weeks after Pelo e ja serati started airing and Take Me To My Crush released a statement on their Facebook page lamenting that instead of the LNBS supporting Basotho youths in an endeavour they had started to create something for themselves in a country where opportunities are few and far between, they had instead stolen their idea and profited off it. The post has since been deleted perhaps due to the legal implications or perhaps because hopefully the parties have resolved their differences. Whether the LNBS did steal the idea from Take Me To My Crush is really a matter for the intellectual property courts. Although it is important to note that legally speaking one cannot steal an idea, only the execution thereof. It is also worth noting that the concept behind Take Me To My Crush is hardly new. There have been similar shows in the past, most recently the South African show All You Need Is Love. So perhaps the LNBS are legally exempt in this case. The matter is more of a moral and conscience issue. A national agency had the opportunity to uplift youths of this country and perhaps partner with them but chose to go another route instead. A route which saw them being in competition with the youths. This was not the first time a young person in this country has taken to social media to complain about national agencies stealing their ideas. Many have long asserted that these agencies often stage ruses where they promise to uplift the youths. People are asked to submit business plans or such blueprints only to never hear from the agency again but instead wake up to their plans being executed by such agencies a few months down the line. The validity and truth behind these allegations have never been proved as they usually surface on social media and never actually make it to court. Of course, making it to court might prove futile as an idea is just an idea and lawyers are expensive. The public then reacts with outrage, but the matter usually dies out within a week or so. What remains and continues to remain within the young people of this country is a general dejection and a mistrust of government agencies. The mistrust however well founded is perhaps also naïve. That is because of the legal perception that ideas cannot be stolen. What the young people should be learning is how to legally protect themselves from those who would steal their ideas. They should also be educating themselves on what can be stolen and what cannot. As painful as it is to have people you trusted with your business plan execute it without you, it is sadly just how the cookie crumbles in some cases. Lesotho is a beautiful place but alas a bounty of opportunity it does not possess. To have a production such as the Take Me To My Crush team had, with the viewership they had, surely was not easy. To get that on their budget which was evidently very little took blood, sweat and tears no doubt and it would have been beautiful to see their efforts being complemented by national stakeholders with the financial muscle and the necessary experience. It must have been a big blow to see a similar show being aired. But what is business if not competition? Rather than be dejected that there is another show similar to their own the team should focus their efforts into creating a better experience for viewers, one that is better than the competition. While it is harder in terms of financial muscle Take Me To my Crush has ingenuity and public sympathy on their side. It may be harder, true but hardly impossible. For the rest of the young people in Lesotho it is important for them to know a thing or two about legal rights as far as sharing business plans with people is concerned. This is not just for government agencies but other partners as well. You can always appeal to public sympathy when someone has thrown you under the bus. But how much is sympathy really worth in Maloti and Lisente ? What can you actually pay for with sympathy? Get smarter and do better. Thakane Rethabile Shale

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