Pirates & Music | Trinidad & Tobago Recording Industry

Piracy is a menace to the music industry all over the world. However, in a small country like Trinidad and Tobago piracy of music can mean the loss of income that could bankrupt an aspiring artist. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has proposed a new bill to prevent the blatant theft and sale of music in Trinidad and Tobago.

The following information in quotation was taken from an article that appeared in the Trinidad Express Newspapers:
“The bill proposes a 10-year prison sentence and maximum $250,000 fine for those found guilty of selling a product without the permission of the copyright owner, importing such products or infringing copyrights”

Finally they are getting their acts together, hip, hip hooray for the people who saw this through. The Minister of Legal Affairs, Peter Taylor had strong words for the pirates as a bill was tabled in Parliament to punish the pirate merchants who suck the blood out of the hard work done by artistes whose only source of income is the sale of their music. This bill was long overdue and hopefully, with good enforcement, the amount of pirated music and movies would diminish. Some people can’t tell the difference between the original and the counterfeited product. However, the price, more times than ever is a revelation of the counterfeited product.
Another interesting development took place when an entity named "The Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Collection Organization" attempted to grant 'a mechanical license' to over 5,000 music Compact Disks and DVDs pirated in order to provide some form of legitimacy. This would have allowed this illegal activity to continue and give them some form of legitimacy!

Now here is the question of the hour, how does this new organization intend to compensate the artistes for the works that they allowed these pirate groups to forge ahead with? How do they intend to monitor these entrepreneurs and keep track of the number of works copied and sold? What about the quality of the artist’s work and would the copies be of the quality provided by the legitimate producers of the music?  Now we can see how much of a problem we have and how this new organization only complicates the situation even further. The question one needs to ask is if this is a legitimate organization licensed by the government and recognized by the reputable music protection agencies across the globe. No, I don't think that this ornanzation is recognized or sanctioned by any of the legitimate agencies working on behalf of the artistes or musicians. COTT will not and should not stand for this. This organization is probably a few members from the pirate group attempting to legitimize their illegal trade.
The Minister also said: “Any licenses issued to anyone engaged in the sale, rental or manufacture of painted works purporting to legitimize such activity are fraudulent."

Now that is also very interesting because the people who produce the artwork for the CD and DVD labels are just as guilty as the persons producing and selling the counterfeited works. I congratulate the Minister and COTT (for its perseverance) in this matter. Counterfeiting agents will never stop their trade because these are very lucrative businesses where they don’t have to create anything but simply act like leaches and suck the life blood out of the industry and the artist’s pockets.

A 10 year prison sentence and a Maximum fine of $250,000 for the guilty parties is a good start for this illegal trade. Let us hope that the enforcement of the law will be swift and just. We all can’t wait for the Carnival season to come around to hear the works of the Calypsonians now they may have a chance to protect their investment with the law finally coming aboard to protect their investments.

Finally, do you believe that any of this means anything to the counterfeiters? No way and some of the sellers of these illegal recordings set up shop in the heart of the business districts without fear of prosecution. In the end, as Stalin said in song, "you are just a thief ... ah damn thief".

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