by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Radio/Club Disc Jockey and Promoter-Dwayne “Deejay Flames” Ferguson emphasises the importance of Copyright enactment to protect the work of entertainers or creatives in St. Kitts and Nevis.
In an exclusive interview with WINN FM on Monday, May 30, the deejay said that the entertainment industry could see improvements if the Copyright Law is fully implemented.
“What can make everybody come to terms and structure entertainment in a proper way in St. Kitts is for the Copyright Law to be gazetted and be in full effect; meaning that, I go by a bar to play music, that bar has to pay something to the persons whose material I am using, because I am a deejay. I go to a fete or to play for a concert with 2,000 or 3,000 people, that promoter has to have a licence to be able to use people’s content, because you are using people’s content to make money.”
“Someone wrote the song, someone produced the beat; so we are actually robbing and stealing from the creatives when it comes to entertainment in St Kitts and nothing has been done about it. I’ve been lobbying for this for years.”
What is “Copyright?”
According to the Intellectual Property Office of St. Kitts and Nevis, “Copyright is the exclusive property right granted to the owner/creator of a literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work. In the same way that the owner of a car has the right of control over how that car is used, copyright holders have the same rights of control over their poems, photographs, plays, songs, software, etc.”
The Copyright Act has been in effect since 2001, yet Deejay Flames is suggesting that it is not being properly utilised for the benefit of local artists.
Deejay Flames suggests that it is unfair for a local artist to not get an official performance for months but deejays, radio stations, bars and clubs are using the artists’ content to make money. He explained that whoever loves entertainment will do what it takes to ensure that all stakeholders benefit.
“You realise you can do an event next month and the Copyright Acts is in full effect across the board where bars, clubs, [radio stations] and all of these places have to pay their dues; you will realise that who really want to be a promoter, who really want to be in entertainment is going to do what their supposed to do. I do not know why it is so hard for the Copyright Law to be enacted, where the artists can get their royalties.”
“For example, Dejour ain’t perform for three months on an event and I am going out and playing Dejour music, playing Infamus’ music, playing Hi-light music and I am making money from playing their music. I am not saying that they are the only artists I am playing, but I am using their content to make money; so why is it that they are not getting a return? Why are they not getting their royalties?” The only way they are going to get their royalties is if the Government enact the Copyright Act of St. Kitts and Nevis across the board for everybody.”
Deejay Flames said there might be a few people that are in compliance with the Copyright Laws but the Government needs to remind individuals or businesses that when they get their promotional licence or broadcasting licence, they have to pay for the use of the creator’s content.
The deejay also used the opportunity to encourage artists and producers to get their creative work registered or documented. This will allow for the Copyright Laws to be enforced in the Federation, allowing for artists to receive benefits for their work.
How does one protect their work through Copyright?
The Intellectual Property Office explained that “Copyright protection is extended to (1) original (2) literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work, provided that (3) the creator/owner of the work is a citizen or habitual resident of St. Kitts and Nevis OR the work was first published in the Federation. All three requirements have to be met… Copyright in St. Kitts and Nevis is AUTOMATIC i.e. the creator/owner of the work gains the right the moment that the work is created. There is no requirement that a work has to be first “registered” to be copyright protected.”
But that only speaks to protection in the Federation. What about the rest of the world? How does a content creator protect their work globally?
St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of a global treaty called the Berne Convention which included 173 countries. The Members of the treaty have an obligation to extend copyright protection in their territories once a work qualifies for protection in another.
The Intellectual Property Office offered this example in a 2017 Op-Ed, “an original book written by a Nevisian should also have copyright protection in Australia, since both countries are Members of the Berne Convention.” But offered a warning saying “It should be noted that there are some inconsistencies in this regard and so creators should ensure that the law in a specific country of interest covers their work before marketing there.”
In speaking with the President of the Professional Advancement for Creativity and Entertainment (PACE) Azem Bailey, there is a reluctance on the part of the owners of content to register their work with the authority- the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organisation for Music Rights (ECCO) that has the ability to fight for their rights when they are infringed upon. He agreed with Deejay Flames’ assertion that the Copyright law is under utilised by creatives and members of PACE.
Personally, Bailey believes that artists in St Kitts and Nevis need to work hard in order to be successful in the music industry. He mentioned that matters relating to Copyright were addressed during the series of workshops organised by the Ministry of Entertainment and attendees were urged to report infringements and agitate for enforcement of the Copyright law.
In addition, there was a Copyright workshop organised by the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organisation for Music Rights (ECCO), in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Office of St Kitts and Nevis and the Ministry of Entertainment on Saturday May 28. Bailey added that hardly any of the notable entertainers were in attendance. He reiterated that if local entertainers want to reach heights in the industry, they need to come together as one and ensure that policies are created to their benefit.