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Govt recommits to introducing modern copyright legislation

first_imgThough concrete measures are not in place, President David Granger assured that his government is committed to introducing modern copyright legislation.For years, those in the creative industries have been feeling stifled owing to the absence of modern copyright laws.These outdated laws paved the way for the creation of a lucrative enterprise in intellectual piracy and counterfeit products.The current legislation, the 1956 Copyright Act, which Guyana inherited from Great Britain following Independence in 1966, has never been revised since, even though its former colonial master had long repealed the legislation that deemed copyright infringement a civil wrong.Though the current Act does provide protection of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works, the fines are extremely low, ranging mostly from £5 to £50 (G$1750-G$17,500). Given the time and cost to pursue an infringement in court, some artistes view the exercise as a loss rather than gain.Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall had expressed that his administration is cognisant of the need for copyright reform, however nothing substantial ever came on stream.The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition during the campaign trail promised to update the laws in order to help develop the creative industry.The then APNU Member of Parliament and Youth, Culture and Sport shadow minister Christopher Jones had emphasised the need for updated copyright laws but guarded against persons thinking that the implementation of such laws would completely eliminate the problems related to plagiarism and piracy.During a recent interview on ‘The Public Interest’, President Grange expressed that he is uncertain about how soon the legislation will be introduced but assured government will definitely move in this direction.“I cannot say for sure when that legislation will be laid but it is a commitment on our part to protect the rights of artistes and publishers of other forms of material…we are committed to suppressing piracy,” he stated.According to the US Department of Commerce, about five to seven per cent of all world trade involves counterfeit products, and estimates the cost to the global economy at more than US$650 billion per year.The income raked in from pirated DVDs, CDs, the unauthorised photocopying of books and other intellectual materials here is a tiny, if not invisible, sum of the global counterfeit trade.Local artistes have raised their concerns about the lack of legislation to protect their work and had issued countless calls for those in authority to take urgent steps to address the situation.Soca Road March champion Melissa “Vanilla” Roberts had previously told this publication that the competition is starkly unfair.“Most locally produced CDs will retail at a price of $1500, but consumers can get the best of any artiste in the world for $200. Now how can a Guyanese artiste compete with that when you have to spend no less than $50,000 to produce a song?“Next, an artiste will spend no less than $150,000 to produce a music video to be aired on television, but because television stations basically get free video content from around the world, why should they be obligated to play ours.“I gave those two examples to say this: if we had updated intellectual property rights legislation in place, radio and television stations will have to be paying millions of US dollars to foreign companies for content. This will in turn force them to revert to more local content, making way for competitive, productive and economic growth for the creative industries in Guyana,” she said.In 2014, Mosa Telford, who has won several literary awards, had also expressed that the present Copyright Act is a dagger in the side of the creative industry.Gavin Mendonca, member of the band Keep Your Day Job (KYDJ), which is part of an advocacy group called Guyana Music Networks, also noted that the current Act needs to be updated as it cannot fully protect the work of creative professionals.From all indications, the issue of copyright will continue to be an ongoing subject of debate and will remain so as long as members of the creative industry believe that more needs to be done to protect their work.last_img read more

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