Musicians and singers in Guyana have called on the government to crack down on copyright infringement, warning piracy is putting the country's unique music industry at risk.

Existing legislation in the South American state is 50 years old and does not take into account the appearance of CDs, DVDs and MP3s.

The loophole allows music pirates to make copies of tracks with impunity and streets in the capital Georgetown are replete with hawkers selling bootleg copies of songs.

Entertainers find it difficult to sue those who copy and sell their music, and in the rare occurrence they successfully do, fines are so low, there are little point in taking legal action.

Al Jazeera's Virginia Lopez, reporting from Georgetown, said the popularity of counterfeit music was preventing local musicians from breaking out.

"An original CD by a local artist costs five times more than a copy of a world-renowned artist," she said.

"In a market this small this price difference means they stand very little chance to succeed in their own country."

Teni Housty, a lawyer, says politicians are doing little to stop the violations.

"You can create the momentum for change but this will be stopped at the doors of parliament," Housty told Al Jazeera.

Guyanese musicians hope that by protecting the music industry, they will be able to make their culture stand out from their Caribbean neighbours.

Source: Al Jazeera