Former President of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Dennis Byron has underscored the importance of remunerating creators for their Intellectual Property (IP).
The eminent jurist made the point while delivering the keynote address at the Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS) inaugural symposium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain last week.
He said, “At the core of many business models, creative entrepreneurs seek to turn their intellectual property into cash flow. They innovate, they create, they take risks and the Intellectual Property System was designed to reward such entrepreneurs who take such investment risks to innovate.”
Sir Dennis also highlighted that despite its immense contribution to the economies of various countries, the creative sector remains somewhat invisible on the radar of economists and does not feature significantly in the creation of policy. The retired CCJ president observed that a regional approach had given way to development on a national level and that the region should look to the development of economies of scale through the pooling of resources and minimizing the waste from replication.
In his welcoming remarks, president of the ACCS John Arnold outlined the reality of the market for both local and regional copyright owners and the organisations acting on behalf of their membership. He noted that they “continue to face challenges with high levels of resistance to copyright licensing including from regional governments and major music users including cable operators. To illustrate how we are affected, whilst the revenue for broadcast (including cable) for most copyright organisations is at least 50 per cent, in the region it is less than 20 per cent.”
He explained that “in turning to the legal system to enforce our rights, we are forced to deal with lengthy, expensive procedures,” and illustrated how these factors negatively impacted the amount of royalties that these organisations can distribute to their members, which in turn affects the way they are perceived.
The symposium which was held in collaboration with the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business (ALJGSB) and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) attracted representatives from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Also, in attendance were members of international copyright organisations, the legal fraternity and business community.
Some business cases were presented to illustrate how regional businesses are able to use IP to create a commercial advantage. In presenting her case study, Melissa Clarke, Commercial Counsel & Legal Manager of Angostura Limited, provided practical examples of Angostura’s system of handling their intellectual property and advised those present that even the most minor violation/ infringement of an organisation’s intellectual property should be taken seriously and acted upon expeditiously. She advised the audience to “treat each infringement like it’s a threat to your company’s bottom line, because, in fact, it is.” (PR)