Tuesday, February 20, 2018

COTT threatens to sue ‘Soaka’ promoters

...for failure to obtain its licence

 The Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) has threatened legal action against the promoters of ‘Soaka’, a cooler fete scheduled for Sunday at O2 Park, Chaguaramas, from 3-9 a.m.

In a media release, COTT stated that the action was taken in the organisation’s efforts “to ensure the collection of copyright royalties for its members”.

The release further states that the promoters of this event have failed to secure a COTT licence for the public performance of its members’ works.

It added: “It should be noted that COTT is the only collective management organisation that represents more than 90 per cent of the authors and composers in Trinidad and Tobago. COTT is also the only organisation in Trinidad and Tobago with direct reciprocal agreements with international copyright agencies to collect on behalf of their members.”

COTT said it remains focused on its mandate to protect the intellectual property of its members and is urging promoters to be compliant, stating: “Failure to adhere could result in COTT taking all lawful measures to ensure that royalties for its members are collected.”

A letter issued by attorneys Dave R McKenzie and Associates, acting on behalf of COTT, to event manager Adrian Scoon of WOW Events, of Westmoorings, stated: “Our client instructs us that instead of paying your fees to cover the intellectual work of the live performances and disc jockey AKA DJ music of the duly-registered members of our client’s reputable and well-established organisation you put forward the argument that since TTCO’s (Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Organisation) fees are cheaper you would be taking out a licence with TTCO. This argument is legally untenable since the disc jockey music that will be played at this event is the intellectual property of our client’s registered members and the artistes slated to perform at this event are members not only of COTT but also of our client’s international affiliates.”

It continued: “We are instructed by our clients that the following artistes, Machel Montano, Kerwin Du Bois and other artistes are scheduled to perform at this event. These are COTT’s members whose copyright has been vested in COTT. We wish to bring to your attention that the music that will be played by the DJs and which these artistes/bands will perform are written and/or published by members of COTT and COTT’s international affiliates such as ASCAP, BMI, PRS for Music, SOCAN, IPRS, JACAP. As such, our client has no choice but to take all necessary steps to protect and enforce the rights of their members. We are instructed that several attempts were made by COTT to collect the sums of monies owed, however, to date there has been no response.”

The legal letter stated that the promoter’s “dereliction of duty to pay COTT’s licensing fee puts the owners and or those who have charge of the O2 Park at risk of criminal liability” and that “yourself and O2 Park may be held criminally liable”.

It further stated: “We have been instructed by our clients to immediately seek an injunction from the High Court to prevent this event from taking place, in the interest of our members, and the interest of our duty of care to protect their ownership of copyright from being infringed.”

When contacted by the Express, Scoon said he was unaware of the legal action taken by COTT since he had not been in office for the day, but did not see how the organisation could shut down the event since he had been granted the relevant certificates by the TTCO.

A representative from the TTCO contacted the Express and said ‘Soaka’ had legal clearance to hold the event and other fete promoters had been granted licences from it.