Published On: Wed, Oct 11th, 2017

Caribbean countries urged to monetize intellectual property

olivia_grangeNEGRIL - Jamaica’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sports, Olivia Grange, has urged Caribbean countries to place greater emphasis on monetizing intellectual property (IP).

Addressing the Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS) regional conference on October 7, the minister said only a targeted multi-disciplinary approach to monetising IP, which includes the public and private sectors, will help Caribbean economies increase value-added and gain a greater share of the global economy.

“Hosting these intellectual discourses signal on the part of government and the collective management organisations (CMOs), the importance placed on intellectual property rights in Jamaica. We are operating in a time and space when monetising intellectual property related to our creativity has become an imperative,” Grange emphasised.

The minister noted that as the Caribbean’s traditional export sectors – sugar, banana and bauxite – have stagnated in large part due to lack of economies of scale, increased competition in the global market, and/or high production costs, “our creativity has increased, yet we earn a mere pittance from those earnings.”

Turning to the issue of copyright and royalties in Jamaica, Grange said although there have been modest increases in the collection of distributable royalties by the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) over the last few years, most of the funds have to be paid over to foreign entities, due to the high level of usage of non-Jamaican material.

“It is interesting that $50.8 million was paid out to foreign societies, whereas only $19.1 million was paid to JACAP members based locally and overseas,” she noted.

The minister said, although alarming, the imbalance in royalty payments represents both a challenge and an opportunity to decrease consumption of foreign content in the country’s tourism product, on the airwaves and in public spaces, while offering an opportunity to increase local content through quotas.

She also expressed concern about the impact technological advancement in the digital environment has been having on music, and urged the ACCS to be advocates and vanguards in the challenging technological environment.

“In 2016, US streaming revenue represented 51.4 percent of music industry revenue. Digital downloads and ringtones represented 24.1 percent, physical sales amounted to 21.8 percent and sync sales 2.7 percent. Globally, streaming income represented 50 per cent of total music industry revenue and overall, digital revenues increased by 17.7 percent in 2016. Some 432 billion songs were streamed on demand in 2016,” she said.

“Despite these phenomenally high numbers in relation to streaming and digital downloads, the low payment resulting from digital services is one of the most frequently mentioned problems in relation to the digital environment. Composers and artistes from all around the world complain about the low payment that comes from digital platforms, especially from those that use the technology of streaming,” the minister said.


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