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Guyana to get modern Intellectual Property legislation within one year

COPYRIGHT TALK: Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and Guyanese singer, Eddy Grant speaking in the National Park on Emancipation Day-August 1, 2015. Mr. Grant is a long-time advocate for effective copyright protection.

Days after another outcry by musicians that an outdated copyright law is preventing them from earning a decent living, government announced that it would pass modern Intellectual Property legislation within a year.

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine made the announcement on Friday during his contribution to the 2015 National Budget debate. “We can’t afford to, as has happened for a decade and a half under the previous administration, pay lip-service to intellectual property by neglecting it to the point of institutionalizing intellectual property piracy,”  he added.

He later told Demerara Waves Online News in an exclusive interview that there would be a wide-ranging consultation with musicians, authors, poets and others in the creative industry to ensure that the new law takes into consideration their concerns. “We will begin to look at the copyright issues and try to come up with a draft piece of legislation that I will then open up to wider consultation,” he said. Roopnaraine intends to include that process with a planned Commission of Inquiry into the state of education in Guyana.

The Minister said he was in favour of public consultations after first engaging with artists and other members of the creative industry to arrive at a plan.

Roopnaraine  hoped that the law would be enacted in one year to replace the 1956 Copyright Act that Guyana inherited at the time of independence from Britain in 1966.

His announcement came less than one week after the Guyana Music Network (GMN) decided to mobilise its community to petition government for the new law.

Addressing that meeting was world renowned Guyanese singer, Eddy Grant who issued a passionate call for the radio stations being operated by the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) to play much more local music as part of strategy for the artistes to earn royalties and promote their craft.

GMN Founder Birchmore Simon has said that he would be lobbying President David Granger to have him instruct NCN to set aside a huge percentage of airtime for Guyanese music.

The then People’s Progressive Party Civic administration that lost power at the May `11, 2015 general elections had claimed that copyright legislation would have prevented poor Guyanese from accessing otherwise expensive textbooks.

The award of a multi-million dollar contract by the Ministry of Education to a local producer and supplier of bootlegged textbooks was only halted after the United Kingdom Publishers Association secured a High Court injunction.