Several media houses are now before the Supreme Court, facing charges of breaches of the copyright laws. The lawsuits were brought against them by the Jamaica Association of Authors Composers and Publishers (JACAP), which represents over two million creators of music worldwide, including over 3400 Jamaicans.
The media houses before the courts include CVM Television Limited, Nationwide News, News Talk 93 FM, Grove Broadcasting Limited (IRIE FM & ZIP 103 FM), KLAS Sports Radio and Island Broadcasting Services Ltd. ‘Cease and Desist’ letters have also been written to Love FM, Sun City Radio, Mello FM, Bess FM, KC Gospel and Mega JAMZ FM.
In a statement, JACAP General Manager Lydia Rose noted that “The creators of Music are unhappy with the illegal use of their works and have mandated JACAP to take violators to Court for infringement of their copyright.” JACAP, which was established in 1999, has to date paid out over 180 million dollars in royalties to its members. The writer is not always the performer and whereas artistes earn from performances, writers and creators of music earn primarily through royalties.
Under the 1993 copyright Act, all users of copyright music are required to get a licence for the usage of music. The JACAP GM said that after years’ of negotiating, several broadcasters still remain non-compliant, either making minimal contributions or refusing to sign a contract or make any payments. She further emphasized that users’ of music need to understand that the works/rights of the music creators must be respected as they are the foundation of the music industry and music events.
JACAP plans to file lawsuits within the coming months against cable and venue operators, promoters and hotels. Several meetings have been held with cable operators and their association, but most continue to breach the laws, gaining economic benefit from the unlicensed use of musical works. This, JACAP emphasized, represents blatant disregard for the laws of Jamaica and the creators of music.
The Association is adamant that it will not accept any handout as it values musical creativity, and will continue to act in the best interest of its members, while preserving the Jamaican Cultural and creative industries.
JACAP is a non-profit membership organization which collects licence fees from copyright music users and distributes the money as royalties to the music creators. A JACAP licence is a legal requirement that allows the legitimate use of local and international music in Jamaica while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly.