'Pay us, please' - JACAP moves to deal with royalty issue

Radio stations, clubs sound systems, ignoring copyright laws, says JACAP

BY KARYL WALKER Online news editor walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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HEAD of the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP), Steve Golding, says a number of radio stations, hotels, sound systems and nightclubs have not been handing over royalties to the association for their use of recorded works.

The poor compliance with local copyright laws has been robbing this group of artistes of earnings they are entitled to, according to Golding, who pointed out that only 30 per cent of the users of intellectual property have handed over royalties with a few exceptions.

Golding made the revelation to reporters and editors at the Observer Monday Exchange yesterday as he argued a case for greater respect for the intellectual property of artistes, particularly songwriters, especially here in Jamaica.

"To my knowledge, none of the radio stations have resisted the copyright law. Some... are compliant. Not all of them," Golding told.

Golding, though, revealed that the two most compliant entities are the RJR Communications Group and Palace Amusement.

Royalties are sums paid to a creator or a participant in an artistic work, based on individual sales of the work. In order to receive royalties the work must generally receive a copyright or patent. The amount of royalties received is often negotiated by contract.

Many of the country's creators of intellectual property make their incomes from royalty payments and have been hard done by the users of their creations who scoff at agencies like JACAP and refuse to pay up.

JACAP began operating in January 1999 as a non-profit organisation, taking over the operations of the local Performing Rights Society London (PRS) agency in the collective administration of music copyrights in Jamaica.

So far, the organisation has dispensed some $70 million in royalties to artistes and musicians — a figure that would be higher with increased compliance.

Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) Vice Chairman Charles Campbell said the association has been urging the Government to amend the Broadcasting Commission Act to force radio stations to fork over royalty payments as a requirement for qualifying for an operating licence.

"JaRIA has made a submission to the Ministry of Culture before the change of regime recently and we have been agitating for it in our meetings with the new regime, that the Broadcasting Commission Act includes that as a condition for a licence, all radio stations should pay to the collection agencies the required copyright," Campbell said.

Although radio stations have been under the royalty spotlight, Campbell said other entities are just as culpable.

"There are hotels, club owners... anyone who uses the music for public consumption," he said.

Golding said creators of music can take out an injunction against entities who refuse to pay royalties in an attempt to stop them from operating. However, he said while the injunction has more teeth with concert promoters, it hits snags in respect of radio stations.

"It is easier with show promoters than with broadcasters, because up until recently the Broadcasting Commission did not have the authority to revoke licences. Now I am hearing that when licences are up for renewal, then complaints from organisations like ours can assist in the process of revoking licences," Golding said.

JACAP is the second national royalty collecting society to be established in the English-speaking Caribbean.

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