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Jamaica Clamping Down on Piracy

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Approximately $2.7 million worth of illegally copied CDs and DVDs were destroyed in 2013, as part of efforts by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) to combat piracy in Jamaica.

The products were destroyed during a court-ordered public demolition, following their use as evidence in a series of successfully prosecuted criminal cases last year.

In making the disclosure at the Piracy and Protection seminar held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on February 18, Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said the government attaches great importance to Intellectual Property (IP) protection.

“This should send a strong signal to persons involved in IP criminal activities, that there will be consequences from the illegal appropriation of the work of copyright holders,” the Minister said.

He noted that the Ministry will be making even greater effort in 2014, and beyond, to not only enforce current legislation, but to also strengthen the country’s IP framework.

“Every effort to protect IP represents an investment in improving the environment for doing business in Jamaica, which is critical to unlocking growth in the economy,” Mr. Hylton said. “There is also a great need for us to enforce existing laws, as failure to do so, has dire consequences,” he noted.

Mr. Hylton said while there is still work to be done, particularly as it relates to bringing legislation in line with technology, there is no denying that Jamaica has a sophisticated and well-organised system in relation to IP protection.

Among the achievements is the fact that Jamaica is signatory to every major international copyright and related rights treaty and agreement administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

This, Mr. Hylton said, ensures that the works of local authors, composers, publishers, producers, and performers are protected wherever in the world they are used.

Additionally, Cabinet has approved Jamaica’s ascension to the Madrid Protocol, which will allow for international registration of trademarks of Jamaican businesses.

“This offers greater levels of protection for Jamaican IP globally. Work continues with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to complete the legislation to effect implementation in Jamaica of the protocol,” he stated.

Jamaica also recognises the significant value of IP for access to financing, and as such, has made provisions in the recently passed Security Interests in Personal Property Act, to allow IP to be used as collateral.

In this regard, copyright protection assumes even greater significance, Mr. Hylton pointed out.

The country’s progress in addressing piracy is further demonstrated in the establishment of a dedicated IP Unit within the OCID of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). The unit is staffed with nine police officers, most of whom have been trained by JIPO, through its various technical programmes with WIPO.

Training has also been provided through the United States (US) Patent and Trade Mark Office, facilitated by the Economic Division of the US Embassy, in its ongoing partnership on enforcement of intellectual property rights. This specialised training also includes, Jamaica Customs, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and members of the judiciary.

There is also an initiative being pursued to strengthen the rights of copyright holders by extending the copyright period from 50 to 70 years.

Jamaica also has the distinction of being the only country in the region with three established and successful collective management organisations (CMOs), whose remit it is to ensure that rights holders in creative works derive economic benefits for the broadcast of their work.

The symposium, which was organised by Strategic Corporate Interventions (SCI), addressed copyright in the television and music broadcast industries.

It featured panel discussions on the topics of policing, piracy and copyright infringement in the television broadcast industry; content management and channel piracy: the international broadcaster’s perspective; and copyright protection in the Jamaican music industry.

The seminar also saw presentations from a number of experts in the sector including Chairman, Broadcasting Commission and Director, Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), Professor Hopeton Dunn; Legal Counsel, Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Nievia Ramsundar; and Affiliate Sales Manager, Caribbean and Special Markets, Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc, Irwin Inman.

By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker 

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