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STOP SIX FETES

COTT threatens legal action over copyright fees for Carnival parties

By Gyazi Gonzales

With Carnival celebrations now in full swing fete promoters are caught in the tug of war over royalties between the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) and the Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Organisation (TTCO).
COTT yesterday sent letters to promoters threatening to file injunctions to stop six Carnival fetes, among them the popular Fatima Old Boys Association “Re-Boot” tomorrow.
In a press release, COTT’s attorneys, Dave R McKenzie and Associates, said it was instructed to issue pre-action protocol letters to the organisers of the fetes with a view to seeking injunctions from the court to prevent the hosting of the events.
The six fetes targeted by COTT in their letter to TTCO are:
• Misty Ridge Xcite which is expected to take place tonight at the Jean Pierre Complex.
• 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).
• WANTED (February 21 at the Centre of Excellence).
• SOCA by the Ranch (Saturday February 22 at Wilson Ranch, Bye Pass Road, Arima).
President of the Fatima Old Boys Association and one of the organisers for the school’s annual all inclusive fete, Dwight Andrews, said yesterday they will not be bullied by COTT.
Andrews said the fees had been paid and “if they (COTT) choose to exercise what they believe is their right under the law we will exercise our right under the very said law and defend ourself, and any further comment on this matter will be made by our attorney, Keith Scotland.”
According to COTT, however, “the organisers of the said events and the owners of the venues where these events are scheduled to be held are hereby reminded that under Section 41 (3) of the Copyright Act a person found guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $250,000 and a ten- year jail sentence”.
Promoters have indicated the position is not clear as to whether two sets of royalties should be paid for an event to take place.
The issue surfaced early in February when COTT sought an injunction against the promoters of the Soaka fete for failing to secure a COTT licence for public performance of its members’ works. COTT maintains it remains “the only collective management organisation in Trinidad and Tobago that has direct reciprocal arrangements with international copyright agencies worldwide to collect royalties on behalf of their members”.
But TTCO issued a response to this stating, “TTCO is the only copyright collective management organisation that has the remit for the ‘works of mas’ and live performance rights under neighbouring rights”. TTCO further said COTT was being misleading as it (TTCO) was the only collective management organisation that has the remit for live performances. The issue was resolved when the Soaka promoters also paid fees to COTT as well as to TTCO.
One of the six promoters threatened by COTT with an injunction, TRM Productions, the promoters of Wanted Sunrise Edition Ultimate Cooler Experience carded for tonight at the Centre of Excellence in Macoya, said in a letter to TTCO that it also had been threatened by COTT.
“Committee members have been inundated with calls from media houses regarding an alleged statement by the Copyright Music Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) that COTT intends to file an injunction to stop our event, for which TRM has already secured a copyright licence with the TTCO. TRM would be grateful if the TTCO could intervene in any way to address this situation which has already begun to reek adverse publicity towards our event,” the TRM letter said.
TTCO in an immediate response said it viewed with great concern the actions being taken by the other copyright organisation against TRM Productions, “as TRM has obtained a copyright licence for said named event from the TTCO”.
It added, “It is of greater concern as within the last 24 hours, we, the TTCO, have been inundated with numerous phone calls from event promoters, all of whom, have secured a copyright licence from the TTCO re their events. ...
“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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