Senator proposes levy on CDs and DVDs

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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OPPOSITION SENATOR Sophia Frazer Binns has recommended that consideration be given to introducing a levy on blank CDs and DVDs, to support Jamaica's creative industries.

She said the proposal, made during her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last week Friday, was necessary to help to ensure the harnessing of the full potential of the industry for the benefit of all participants.

“I am therefore recommending, for consideration, a blank levy on all CDs and DVDs or media, similar to that which obtains in the USA, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada,” she stated.

“This levy would not go to the Consolidated Fund (budget), but used for the purpose of enhancing the creative industries. In Canada the monies go into a special fund, managed by the Copyright Board of Canada, which also has the task of collecting and distributing the funds,” she informed the Senate.

Senator Frazer Binns, noting that the creative industries comprise the arts, fashion, culture, and music, said it has been established that they are among the fastest growing worldwide.

“Globally, the sector is estimated to account for more than seven per cent of the world's gross domestic product, and is forecast to grow at a rate of 10 per cent annually.

“Jamaica is no exception. In 2012-2013 the local sector generated $267 million in local expenditure, with a further $1.2 billion in capital expenditure taking place in the economy through linkages with other sectors, employing over 5,000 persons,” she noted.

“Jamaica is known for its music, food and rich culture, a place where persons from near and far travel to experience Brand Jamaica — but yet the sector seems to be falling short of its true potential. It is characterised by, among other things, payola, lack of clear structures, lack of unity, and even insufficient laws to facilitate and harness and grow the industry,” she stated.

“There must be clear policies to encourage and protect this industry. It is within this framework that I wish to make some recommendations to ensure we harness the full potential of this industry for the benefit of all participants, while projecting Jamaica,” she said.

According to the senator, one of the continuing problems within the creative industries, especially the music industry, is piracy.

“Increasingly, we find persons showing scant regard for the work of the creators. It is not unusual to be in Half-Way-Tree on any given day and a man comes up to you with pirated CDs or DVDs for sale — totally unrestrained and without any reservation. Such is the monster of piracy in the country,” she argued.

She said that when this happens it affects the entire sector — including singers and all the persons working behind the scenes, songwriters, recording artistes, audio engineers, computer technicians, talent scouts, publishers, directors, producers, and countless others.

“The effect is not only illegal, it is devastating,” she commented.

She said that, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, a study on piracy done by the Institute of Policy Innovation revealed that the annual harm of music piracy is US$12.5 billion in losses to the US economy, plus 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages.

Senator Frazer Binns said that the fight against piracy must be intensified if Jamaica is to take advantage of the recently passed Security Interests in Personal Property Act.

“We must endeavour to maintain the value of the created work. While we applaud the efforts of the Organized Crime Investigations Division in seeking to bring the perpetrators to justice, more must be done to assist our creators to earn from their work,” she said.

“It is no wonder, [and I'm not saying it is the sole reason], but we are all too familiar with the stories of many artistes who spend their senior years in poverty or merely eking out an existence, after many years of invaluable contribution to the creative industries,” she stated.


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