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Sunday 15 September 2019
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Copyright groups at loggerheads

The copyright organisation Awesome Copyright is within its right to defend its members, operations and staff in the execution of its duties as its competition would, CEO Patrice Buckradee said yesterday.

Asked about a full-page advertisement that the organisation placed in Newsday yesterday, Buckradee said it was forced to respond to negative publicity it has been getting from its competitor, the Copyright Organisation of TT (COTT). This includes a recent disclaimer ad about one of Awesome’s employees (a former COTT employee).

Newsday has contacted COTT’s CEO for a response to Awesome’s ad and one is expected.

COTT’s ad, Buckradee said, was placed in another daily newspaper on January 17 after the Awesome employee legitimately went to an event to monitor it to ensure that all copyright licences were adhered to. That employee has been with Awesome for over a year and a half, she said, and the ad was meant to not only discredit him but Awesome as well. “What gives us the right to do what we do is our membership. We act legally on their behalf. My membership is close to 500,” she said. “We have newspaper articles where COTT has published stuff about Awesome. We have not been going back and forth or calling anybody names, because that is not our management style.”

Awesome has been in the copyright industry for over ten years and it covers, she said, “not only music and performing rights, but also applied arts, mechanical rights, fine arts, photography, and audiovisual work.

“We do not only represent gospel music as is being bandied about. We represent all genres of music.”

Awesome Copyright, she said, is authorised to collect royalties from any business or individuals, including radio stations, television stations, promoters and DJs, who use the works registered with Awesome.

In 2017, she said, Awesome became the first copyright organisation in TT to adopt the World Intellectual Property Organisation TAG (Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance) initiative. “Since then we have been rolling out a number of initiatives and increasing our membership,” she said.

Some promoters still are, and even some of her members, she said, were previously of the view that COTT was a government agency and the only legitimate copyright entity. But Awesome Copyright and COTT, she said, are both non-governmental organisations.

TT has three copyright organisations: Awesome, COTT and the TT Copyright and Collection Organisation (TTCO). TTCO covers authors and composers under traditional copyright, Carnival and other elements under works of mas. It also covers performers, producers and broadcasters under neighbouring rights.

“We are asking interested persons not to call our competitors about us. Call us. Call the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs to find out directly so they do not think we are running a scam.”

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