‘Bootleggers’ liable to prosecution under the law
April 13, 2006
‘Bootleggers’ liable to prosecution under the law

Piracy of copyright materials is a crime in St.Vincent and the Grenadines like other countries the world over.

Yet on the streets of Kingstown “Bootleggers” or “Pirates” sell illegal copies of artistes’ work religiously, six days of the week, Monday to Saturday.{{more}}

While most of the material sold by local bootleggers is the work of international music and movie artistes, local artistes in the different genres of music – which include calypso, soca and reggae, are also victims of this crime.

While a recent law has been in operation since 2004, a combination of factors has been hindering the enforcement of the law.

Andrea Young-Lewis, Acting Registrar at the Commerce and Intellectual Property Office in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, explained that among the factors contributing to the challenge, is the absence of a collective management society to collect royalties and enforce the law.

She added that the owner of the material must also have an input since that person will have to report the offence to the police.

“The owners have to take more responsibility for their work and organize themselves to reap the benefits from the protection the law offers,” said Young-Lewis.

“It needs the will of the individuals to report the offences,” the lawyer stated.

The Acting Registrar, added that amidst the efforts of the Commerce and Intellectual Property Office to sensitize the public about copyright and related rights, the concept is still new in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and will take a while for Vincentians to get familiar with them.

In 2005 the Commerce and Intellectual Property Office conducted an interactive programme on Hitz FM which dealt with piracy as well as a workshop which brought disc jockeys, announcers, artistes and promoters together to sensitize them about the issue.

Additionally, the Commerce and Intellectual Property Office had representatives of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) train local police officers as well as officials from the Customs and Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

Copyright is the right given by law to the author of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work to control the copying and other use of his work.

The 2004 Copyright law strengthens the ability of the Courts, the police and customs officials to enforce the rights of copyright owners.

Its enforcement provisions include: “Liability on summary conviction to a penalty of $2,500 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months for the manufacture for sale or hire, importation for commercial use or possession, distribution, sale, hire or offer of illicit recordings in the course of a business or for causing a recording to be shown or played in public or broadcast without the consent of the performer or holder of the recording rights. Liability on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or imprisonment for a maximum term of 5 years or both.”

The offence also carries other penalties.