Valuing your Musical Creativity

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As the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) continues to take urgent steps to deal with the vexed issue of non-compliance, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has issued its annual report naming Jamaica as one of the rogue countries which will remain on a Special 301 Watch List, and citing inadequate payment of public performance royalties as a reason for the country’s retention.

In its annual report released May 1, the USTR sends a stern warning to foreign governments to ensure that adequate copyright payments are made when U.S. musical compositions are performed in TV and radio broadcasts, over cable systems and in all other kinds of public performances.

Acknowledging that this is indeed not a good look for Jamaica, JACAP General Manager, Ms. Lydia Rose, said, however, that the organization was not surprised about these developments.

“Unfortunately, there is a passive and an active resistance from many of the players as far as compliance with the copyright law is concerned. JACAP has done its utmost to educate those persons who fall under our purview, yet still, at the end of the day their cry is that they were ignorant of the law. Now, we are faced with a situation in which no less a body than the Office of the United States Trade Representative has deemed it necessary to highlight this very sore issue, and it puts us in a negative light,” Ms. Rose explained.

She added that JACAP welcomed the move by the USTR for accountability at a governmental level, as the association has been working in tandem with the relevant authorities in a bid to secure greater compliance from broadcasters, cable operators, bars, restaurants, promoters, corporate sponsors, venue operators, event planners and business places.  

According to the General Manager, JACAP has formed a partnership with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in a bid to strengthen and enforce the Copyright ACT, 1993.

“We have been in discussions with the police over the last couple of months, in an effort to form some kind of partnership as far as the issuing of licences and permits are concerned. We are now at the point where being in possession of a licence from JACAP will be a pre-requirement to being granted a licence from the police to host an event,” the General Manager stated, pointing out that this would certainly give the organization much needed leverage.
Quite elated at this development, Ms. Rose was fulsome in her praise of the JCF and SSP Clifford Chambers, Head of the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) for the key role they have undertaken to play in getting promoters to comply with the law. Ms Rose also advised of a new partnership formed with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and thanked the Mayor of Kingston, Senator Angela Brown-Burke, for facilitating this alliance.

“This is a definitely a win-win situation that directly impacts on our members, who have been losing so much of their well-deserved royalties. JACAP’s mandate is to collect the payments and secure benefits for songwriters, composers and music publishers and we will use whatever legal means necessary to get the job done. The JCF and the KSAC have demonstrated their willingness to help us achieve our objectives and we would like to publicly thank them for this. Our organisation anticipates less resistance and a greater level of compliance from industry players moving forward,” the association’s general manager said.

Also noteworthy is the fact that in direct response to this call, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), has issued a press release lauding the USTR for holding governments responsible for the handling of royalties’ payments and commended the influential watch dog body for including other Caribbean islands on this list.

 “ASCAP applauds the efforts of USTR to increase government accountability for these failings,” the release said.

ASCAP further stated, “We are especially pleased that, for the first time, USTR has placed Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago on the Special 301 Watch List, and has also cited public performance royalties as a reason to retain Jamaica on that list. ASCAP urged USTR to do so, because in all these countries, leading cable operators and broadcasters refuse to pay for the public performance of music, or even to negotiate with the local performing rights organizations (ASCAP’s partners).  In these countries and throughout the Caribbean region, issues of nonpayment go without remedy before the courts and other government authorities, and ASCAP applauds the efforts of USTR to increase government accountability for these failings.”

JACAP, which enjoys an affiliate agreement with ASCAP, is a membership organization which collects licence fees from copyright music users and distributes the money as royalties to the music creators. A JACAP licence is a legal requirement that allows the legitimate use of local and international music in Jamaica.

Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers Ltd. (JACAP)
21 Connolley Avenue, Kingston 4, Jamaica, West
Tel: (876) 948-6439, 948-5937
Office Digicel: (876) 578-4917
Fax: (876) 922-1638

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