Saturday, 23 April 2011

Copyright and the Selector

Copyright and the Selector
By Gwyneth Harold

April 23 is recognised by UNESCO as World Copyright Day and I paused today to reflect on what this means for me, the official "selector" of recordings of the spoken word for the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta. What a journey it has been! We want to have readings that touch on a range of genres and subjects and that will move listeners emotionally, but still maintain a fun, fiesta feel....and stay within laws that protect intellectual property rights.

The Commonwealth Foundation's Short Story Competition kindly granted permission to replay the audio tracks of winning entries from 2010. Also in my collection is work from Jamaican writers. I tried to find the work of recent poets, such as Dingo, but that is not so simple although I did check a few bookshops, maybe I was not thorough enough.

Fellow festival collaborator, Janet Barrett, has a lovely album of stories by Trinidadian storyteller, Paul Keens Douglas. I selected the shortest one on that album and it is seven minutes long! The Winston Churchill Foundation allows downloads and the piece I selected is his comments on the value of imagination to a nation. He delivered that speech during the war when he was Prime Minister of the UK.

Of course patois has to be featured and I went old school with recordings of The Honourable Louise Bennett Coverley, among others.

The playlist of talk needs space between the pieces, which means a little music.
I searched my personal music library and found things I forgot were there. A touch of bright trumpets from bullfighting music, samba samples from Brazil and Arturo Tappin's Java album will help us to deliver Latin in the fiesta atmosphere. Afro Caribbean rhythms from Rupert Bent's guitar-led album, Badly Bent, and the Taxi Gang's Latin interpretation of the theme from Mission Impossible are irresistible.

Much of Buju Banton’s work is storytelling, so although I wanted to keep music to instrumental, I had to include selections from Till Shilo.

I wanted to have an inspirational track or two and selected Noddy Virtue’s Just Believe from the album of the same name. I also used music from the Sound of Joy album, Sing de Bible, with lyrics taken from the most influential book in English, The Holy Bible.

Dr Christine Marrett, the festival coordinator, is exacting when it comes to respecting intellectual property, and ensuring that we do the right thing with regards to licenses and permits. We have prepared our playlist and will submit it to the relevant agency along with the fee so that composers and artists can benefit from the use of their work.

Locally based collection agencies, however, do not cover the spoken word, and these artists perhaps also have no less right to benefit from the replay of their work. The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) advised us that every effort should be made to find the owner of the work and get permission for playback. The search for writers started in earnest and writers are giving permission for us to replay their work. This search also extends to gaining permission from sites that offer free downloads, as some of these sites do not own the work and downloads must be deleted from the computer and not shared or broadcast.

I got a call from a literary fan who insisted that the recorded talk needs to have American civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King; I needed a legal copy. Fortunately Apple iTunes University allows free downloads of material for educational purposes.

I also tried to buy mp3 copies of speeches, but neither Apple-iTunes nor Amazon allow these purchases to a PC in Jamaica. As a selector, these were interesting experiences and good information for anyone whose profession touches on intellectual property or the creative industries.

Jamaica is repeatedly cited as a country that still has a far way to go to protect intellectual property and on World Copyright Day 2011 I am reflecting that it is onerous, especially for free events, to do due diligence, but in the long run we must be able to say that we used the labour of someone else, legally.
April 23, 2011