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The Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) has started a campaign to enforce copyright rules for promoters who have music played at their events.

According to Evon Mullings, general manager of JAMMS, the rules existed from as far back as 1993.

“JAMMS is established under the Copyright Act of Jamaica (1993), to administer the intellectual property rights granted to producers/companies who are owners of the copyright in sound recordings, therefore it must not be confused that the law now being enforced is new,” he said.

Mullings explained that copyright laws are universal, and revealed that since the music business has taken a sour turn as it relates to sales, it is important that music industry players are protected from exploitation.

“Copyright laws exist in every territory and are very important for ensuring that the owners of the copyright have the necessary protection that will allow them benefit from the ‘exploitation’ of their works,” he said.

“Record producers/companies are businesses that invest in music production in order to remain viable entities, they must protect their business assets, much of which lie in the value of their copyrights,” he said.

According to Mullings, JAMMS acts as the mediator that ensures that composers are compensated for their investments.

“We assist in the protection of rights, when owners become members of collecting societies such as JAMMS, we act on their behalf,” he said.

Mullings also revealed that JAMMS’ credibility rests under Part VII of the Copyright Licensing, Section 87, which constitutes its authority as a collecting society/licensing agency.

Here is the act Mullings said the promoters should be aware of:

‘The owner of the copyright in a work shall have the exclusive right to do or to authorise other person to do any of the following acts in Jamaica-( c) to perform the work in public or, in the case of sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme, to play or show the work in public.’

JAMMS currently has ads in rotation on local radio stations promoting the Copyright Act, and according to Mullings, the process of payment is very simple.

“Event promoters must indicate the size of the event by declaring to JAMMS the estimated number of patrons. Based on the size of the event, promoters will pay the applicable licence fee, JAMMS will then issue payment receipts along with the copyright permit for public performance of sound recordings,” he said.

If a JAMMS copyright permit/licence is not obtained, performance of music in public would be seen as unauthorised, and may constitute an infringement of copyright, with respect to the provisions of the Copyright Act (1993).

Mullings claims that the intention is to build a good relationship with promoters and industry players, but also warned that copyright infringement is an illegal offence which carries penalties under the law.

“As a record producer, you should become registered with the relevant collecting societies. Collecting societies are not able to collect royalties on your behalf, unless you give them authorisation, and once you are a ‘music user’ engaged in the public performance of recorded music, you need to become compliant with the law.