Monday 3 February 2014

Paradise lost - a tale of two societies

The Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Music Organisation (COTT) has withdrawn its legal threat to stop the popular Soaka Till Sunrise Fete after striking a last-minute deal with the event's promoters. Collection society COTT’s change of heart came 24 hours after its initial press release threatening legal action against the Fete’s promoters, WOW Events, for an unpaid copyright licence fee for the event - prompting one fan to say "iwe be real…unless they want ah nex state ah emergency…nobody gonna cancel soaka" and another "Passed out for 40 mins and Soaka is cancelled?!?? Details please somebody! Lol"  In a press release COTT announced that it had granted the Fete promoters the licence, and thanked them for paying the fee. So is all well in paradise?

Before the settlement WOW's Adrian Scoon responded to the legal threat on his Facebook page by saying "so there are two copyright organizations in this country. COTT and TTCO. For many years COTT has had a monopoly on the market and has taken advantage of the promoter. Any promoter will tell you that when you go to COTT they charge you copyright fees based on ticket sales which is ludicrous and unlawful. This year we decided to go with TTCO and we have secured a copyright license for our event. We were actually recommended to them by other credible promoters." This seemed to prompt the COTT action - and COTT had pointed out that they (alone) represented a number of domestic artistes who would be performing at the event - and who would perform self penned material - as well as a wealth of international repertoire that would be used by DJs.

The central issue in this matter is the what seem to be two competing music copyright collection agencies in Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Collection Organization (TTCO) which was set up in 2000 and maintains on its Facebook page that it is a legitimate not for profit entity, and enjoys the same rights as the not for profit COTT to offer licenses - although COTT  (which has a reciprocal agreements with PRS for Music, ASCAP in the USA, Japan's JASRAC and Canada's SOCAN amongst other overseas collection societies) claims to represent most music used in Trinidad & Tobago and "virtually the entire worldwide repertoire of copyrighted music". COTT was incorporated in 1984 as a private company limited by guarantee in anticipation of the Copyright Act 1985 of Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to the establishment of COTT, The UK's PRS operated an agency in this territory as it continues to do in some English-speaking territories in the Caribbean. COTT was the first national collecting society to be established in the Caribbean and began operating in 1985. 

TTCO's Facebook page still advises "Please be reminded that it is a criminal offense subject to a fine of $250,000.00 TT dollars and 10 years imprisonment if found breaking the copyright laws of Trinidad & Tobago. Gentle Reminder promoters, do the right thing...." adding "Remember, you now have a choice between TTCO and or COTT".  Hmmmmm.

More soaka fun here

Some impartial advice from the Guardian in Trinidad & Tobago here

No comments: