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You need to be more creative with words, Dominica attorney urges calypsonians

Friday, April 11, 2014 | 1:00 PM    

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) – An attorney has warned local calypsonians that they need to be much more creative and clever when penning their songs if they are to avoid having to pay significant sums of money in lawsuits.

“It is important to note that to date calypsonians, they have no special rights or privileges under the law,” attorney Duncan Stowe told a panel discussion organised by the Dominica Calypso Association (DCA) on Thursday night.

The discussion followed last month’s ruling by  a High Court judge to award EC$130,000 (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) in damages to the island’s ambassador to Venezuela Dr Philbert Aaron after he claimed he had been defamed by a calypsonian in his song ‘Bug Her’.

Justice Errol Thomas awarded EC$75,000 for general damages, EC$50,000 for aggravated damages and EC$5,000 for exemplary damages on account of the remix of the song done by the singer, Checko whose real name is Abel Jno Baptiste.

Aaron had claimed in his lawsuit filed on January 16, 2013 that he been libelled and slandered with respect to the song which was written and sung by the defendant. The suit also sought an injunction restraining the defendant from further publishing the offending words and or any other words defamatory of Aaron.

Checko had filed an acknowledgement of service on February 13, 2013, but filed no defence within the time prescribed by law.

Stowe said calypsonians needed to find creative ways to circumvent the law through clever and effective use of language.

“That is the only way. So go to an English teacher, go to a Literature teacher with your ideas and ensure you are sufficiently creative,” he stated.

Stowe said over the years there have been many calypsonians who have proved time and time again that the use of language is important. You have to find creative ways to do it,” he said.

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