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Jagdeo warns Granger’s plan to strengthen intellectual property rights legislation will make watching Cable TV expensive

FLASH BACK: Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo meeting with President David Granger.

President David Granger’s announcement that government would soon pass modern intellectual property legislation has been rubbished by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, saying it would make life hard for for video and music enterprises and expensive for watching Cable television.

“This government, when it passes that next year, every video store in this country would have to close that sells these bootlegs and every store that sells music now- the way they currently do it- they would have to shut those down too and the guys who are doing the push-cart they can be charged too; they won’t be able to do that anymore.

In his address to the opening of the this session of Parliament following the two-month recess, President Granger announced that “an Intellectual Property Rights Bill will be brought before the House to upgrade Guyana’s intellectual property rights legislation”.

The former Guyanese leader, who has long supported the printing of pirated text books on the grounds that it is cheaper for ordinary Guyanese, also warned that watching cable television would become an expensive past-time when the new intellectual property rights law is passed next year.

“The citizens of this country will have to pay for everything, every single thing, so it means all the television shows that we broadcast now you’d have to pay for it. This may help, again, a couple of the people who we gather are in bed with them on this because, then, they will hug the entire cable environment and then they will charge people large sums of money,” he said.

Local authors, musicians and other artistes  have been complaining that due to soft penalties under the 1956 Copyright Act that Guyana inherited from Britain they are being robbed of royalties and there is no incentive to continue producing works.

However, Jagdeo recalled that while the People’s Progressive Party had been in office, that administration had been working on a model that would not have been “totally free-trade oriented” that would have resulted in the protection of locally produced material by “this poor developing country”.

“I don’t see any compelling need. In many part of the world people don’t protect our people, our material so we protect the copyrighted material for local artistes etc and we have those enforced, removed from the shelves etc. and then wait until the appropriate time… such time in the future where people can afford to pay for other copyrighted service” he said. Jagdeo admitted that that approach might not be the most enlightened but many international treaties do not protect the interests of small countries. “We now are pushed to protect other people’s copyrights and they don’t protect our trading rights in other parts of the world….Trust me, the PPP would not be the one to take way people’s videos at this time, not when they are so poor,” he added.

Noting that American President Donald Trump has said that his aim is to make America great again, and so Guyana should not be anyone else’s policeman.

Back in 2012, United Kingdom-based The Publishers Association had obtained an injunction against the Ministry of Education preventing the award of a multi-million dollar contract to a local duplicating/ printing company to reproduce thousands of textbooks from original editions that had been published by several leading British companies.

In the past, the United States (US) had identified the need for Guyana to have modern intellectual property and copyright legislation as a condition for signing a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The US in recent years has lobbied the Guyana government against trademark violation of a number of American companies.

US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway has said, “to honor content creators around the world, we must consider how we can protect their work from theft.  Only this will ensure they receive the credit and financial reward to enable them to keep using their creative talents to better themselves, to better their craft, to better Guyana, and ultimately to better the world.: