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Legal woes for Insomnia

...Royalty problems for fete

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

THE PRODUCER of this year's new-look Dimanche Gras show has been hit with the threat of legal action for one of the Carnival season's signature events as a result of the non-payment of mandatory performance royalties to the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT), the Express has learned.

Insomnia, the "ultimate breakfast party", may be put to rest this year if Island People Unlimited Functions Ltd does not pay the public performance royalties owed to COTT by 10 a.m. today.

Derrick Lewis and Dane Lewis, the producers of Insomnia, were yesterday sent a legal letter threatening "injunction action for infringement of copyright".

The letter was sent by attorney Derriann Charles of the law offices of Martin Anthony George and Company.

It was copied to Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, Culture Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas and chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Allison Demas.

Insomnia, in its 13th year, is scheduled to be held at O2 Park in Chaguaramas early Sunday morning.

The letter stated that Island People Unlimited Functions Ltd was "given every possible opportunity" to pay COTT licence fees for the event.

"Several communications by phone, e-mail and fax between yourselves and Ms Judy Ann Prescod, manager General Licensing of COTT, and Ms Natasha Noray concerning the payment of said COTT licence fees also took place, unhappily with no results," the letter stated.

"To date you have failed to furnish COTT with the relevant information on the number of patrons expected to attend this event and you have generally failed and/or refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction and entitlement of our clients COTT in relation to the collection of these COTT licence fees," it stated.

Several COTT members, including Machel Montano, Destra Garcia, Ian "Bunji Garlin" Alvarez and Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez are among the artistes scheduled to perform at the event.

Other performing artistes are members of COTT's international affiliates and the music they will perform is either written and/or published by COTT members or members of COTT's international affiliates.

"As such our client has no choice but to take all necessary steps to protect and defend and enforce the rights of our members."

The letter also focused on the fact that Unlimited Functions Ltd was selected to produce this year's Dimanche Gras show.

"This calls for an extra sense of responsibility from yourselves and your company in this regard and, as a result, we are copying Ms Allison Demas, the chairman of the National Carnival Commission and the Honourable Minister of Culture Dr Lincoln Douglas because the expenditure of taxpayers' monies in that event places upon the recipients an according duty to act with responsibility and good faith and in accordance with the laws of the land."

The owners of O2 Park, the proposed location for the event, may also be "criminally liable" as a result of Island People Unlimited Function Ltd's "dereliction of duty" under Section 41 A (1) of the Copyright Act, the letter said.

But Derrick Lewis said he felt confident the show will go on. Lewis said while he was not a "focal point" in the team producing Insomnia, he felt all "due diligence was observed".

"I am sure they (the team producing Insomnia) have taken all the right steps. I feel confident everything has been put in place and everything will go on as planned. I have little doubt the event will be stopped," Lewis said.

He said his main focus now is ensuring Dimanche Gras, titled "I am Carnival", is the best product this country has ever seen.

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