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LET THE MUSIC PLAY

..but COTT warns it can still sue fete promoters

By Gyasi Gonzales gyasi.gonzales@trinidadexpress.com

THE fetes are on.

Six fetes that were threatened with an injunction on Thursday had they not paid the “required” fees as demanded by the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT), are proceeding.

Misty Ridge Xcite took place last night at the Jean Pierre Complex along with WANTED which was also scheduled for last night at the Centre of Excellence in Macoya. 

The other fetes include Fatima Old Boy’s Association all-inclusive fete “RE-BOOT” scheduled for tonight at the school’s Mucurapo Road compound, Misty Ridge Premium All-Inclusive (Sunday, February 23 at the Trinidad Hilton), Shades Breakfast Party (Sunday March 2 at the Soledad Estate), Double Up (March 2 on Ariapita Avenue) and SOCA by the Ranch which is expected to take place tonight at Wilson Ranch, Bypass Road, Arima. 

COTT’s chief executive officer Josh Rudder told the Express yesterday, “We don’t intend to necessarily stop an event because nobody wins. However, we must protect the rights of our creators of music if they are to ever continue to create and do so profitably.”

He said COTT intends to protect its artistes by monitoring these events for the music used and if there is evidence that any pieces from its 2,900-strong membership are being used then COTT would take legal action against the promoters.

Rudder explained that “during the course of this week a number of major events had decided to acquire a licence, but this licence does not allow the use of music under COTT’s representation, and we have had numerous conversations and dialogue months in advance with related promoters, who usually indicate the week of the event is due to take place that they will not be acquiring the requisite licence with COTT”.

He added, “This decision has placed COTT in a position where we must fulfil our mandate on behalf of our membership and take the necessary steps to do so.

“The owners of COTT are the songwriters and our board of directors are the song writers and we will continue to do what it takes to ensure they are compensated, via payment of royalties, for the use of their music and legally we have a number of options, and we can either seek an injunction to prevent the use of the music that we represent, or we can after an event has happened gather the necessary evidence proving copyright infringement.”

Attorney Keith Scotland, who represented the interests of Fatima College’s (FOBA) “Re-Boot” fete, said yesterday, “At no time whatsoever has our client infringed any copyright laws or in fact, any laws in Trinidad and Tobago whatsoever and as a responsible organisation promoting events for over ten years FOBA has always acted in consonance with the copyright laws of this country. Thus, FOBA vehemently denies each and every allegation of infringement of your client’s copyright.”

Scotland continued, “With respect to the event entitled ‘Fatima Old Boys’ Association RE-BOOT’ carded for 22nd February 2014, at the college grounds, our client applied for and obtained from the Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Collection Organisation (TTCO) on February 15th, 2014, its requisite performance licence fees with respect to the use of certain musical works. For your information, our client’s licence number is FOBA 127.

“We submit that there is no legal requirement pursuant to the Copyright Act 1997 (the Act), mandating our client to seek a performance licence specifically and solely from your client. 

“Consequently, it is abundantly clear that our client was entitled to obtain its performance licence from TTCO, TTCO (Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Organisation) being one of the established collection and licensing bodies in this jurisdiction.” 

An exasperated sounding Scotland added that, “Additionally, in our view, your media release (COTT’s) amounts to a misrepresentation of the facts stated herein and tantamount to a blatant attempt by your client to bring our client’s association into disrepute, a reputation which FOBA has acquired over the many years of hard work and dedication towards its patrons and supporters.”

Shavanand Jadoonanan of TRM promotions also weighed in on the issue stating, “We wish to assure the public that there are no copyright licensing issues with the Wanted Ultimate Cooler Experience (which was scheduled for last night) at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.”

He said, “TRM secured a legal special events copyright licence from the Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Collection Organisation since January 29, 2014, and in fact TRM has paid in full all our front line artistes—Bunji, Kes, KI, Denise Belfon and SuperBlue and we wish  to dispel any contrary assertions as are reported to be spread by an alleged statement from the Copyright Music Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago as carried on the broadcast and social media.”

Jadoonanan added, “We have received verbal and written confirmation from Mr Richard Cornwall and Dr Vijay Ramlal, COE and president, respectively, of the TTCO, that there are no legal copyright issues to obstruct the Wanted Fete and that COTT has no legal grounds to seek an injunction from the courts to stop the fete and any such claim by COTT is baseless.”

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