Nigel Campbell, Concert promoter and music writer

Concert promoter and music writer Nigel Campbell has called for a new focus towards ownership of podcasting and streaming rights, and even a mandatory registration of copyrights. His suggestion comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed the live music industry. 

Campbell said a major flaw is the lack of an industry advocacy unit with organisations like TUCO, Pan Trinbago and COTT not considered effective interlocutors with Government on trade issues. 

Adding her views to the topic, Fanta Punch, Partner, Head, Intellectual Property at law firm M. Hamel-Smith & Co.  acknowledged that copyright owners face serious challenges in protecting their copyright. She said, “The sale and distribution of pirated goods also contributes to money laundering and illicit trade activities. Our copyright law does not distinguish between copyright infringement and piracy specifically, but it does set out both civil and criminal liability for the infringement of copyright.” 

The illicit trade in music known as piracy and copyright infringement, is the exploitation of another person’s musical creation via reproduction and duplication for bootleg sale, unauthorized sampling for a new musical work, or distribution or unlicensed use in an environment where money will be exchanged. 

The Ministry of Trade and Industry Entertainment Industry Survey has placed the value of the industry’s contribution to the T&T economy at TT$169M, and WIPO estimated the industry’s value based on domestic and regional market trends and evolution at $43M in 2007, and in 2011 at $49M. Campbell believes there are sufficient laws to prevent piracy and copyright infringement but it has not been used enough due to the unwillingness of local creators to engage in convoluted legal battles and due to the non-recognition of the value of their intellectual property, “Further, T&T has never used the WTO trade dispute mechanism to settle any claims. We are at a disadvantage internationally, and locally, we are stymied by too many regulations.” 

In seeking redress for infringement, Punch stated, the copyright owner can bring civil proceedings against an infringer which if successful could include injunctive relief, seizure or destruction of the infringing works, damages or an account of an infringer’s profits. She posited, “Where criminal sanctions are brought, the guilty party may be held criminally liable for copyright infringement for profit-making purposes and depending on the severity of the offence, penalties or imprisonment may apply.”

Reporter: Ryan Bachoo