NEW YORK, United States, Friday May 17, 2013 – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), has placed Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago on a watch list of countries that have failed to make the adequate copyright payments for U.S. musical compositions aired in the broadcast media.
The USTR also decided to retain Jamaica although the country has taken steps to enforce regulations related to copyright payments.
In its annual report released on Wednesday, the USTR called on foreign Governments to ensure that adequate copyright payments are made when US musical compositions are performed in TV and radio broadcasts, over cable systems and in other kinds of public performances.
As it relates to Barbados, the USTR says it is concerned that local TV and radio broadcasters’ refusal to pay for public performances of music.
“United States rights holders complain that both private and government-owned broadcasters in Barbados either fail to obtain licenses from the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers Inc. (COSCAP) or fail to pay for all of the applicable rights even if they are
licensed by COSCAP.”
The report went on to state that although the Barbados Copyright Tribunal was finally
convened in 2012, it has not yet acted to determine the amount due to COSCAP pursuant to a 2007 judgment of the Barbados Supreme Court that found copyright infringement violations.
“The United States urges the Government of Barbados to take all administrative action necessary to ensure that United States composers and songwriters receive compensation owed, without undue delay, for the public performance of their musical works.”
The US also expressed concern that section 82 of the Copyright Act of 1988 creates a compulsory licensing scheme allowing for the interception and retransmission of United
States cable programming by local cable operators without the consent of, and without adequately compensating, United States rights holders.
While the USTR commended Jamaica for the steps taken to enforce Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Jamaica remains on the 2013 Watch List.
“ Jamaica also continued its efforts to educate the public about IPR protection and enforcement, and launched a voluntary copyright registration system. However, the United States remains seriously concerned about the need to enact the draft Patents and Designs Act.”
The report added that Jamaica’s largest cable operator has not yet compensated performing rights organizations for the public performances of music and urged Jamaica to resolve that problem.
In placing Trinidad and Tobago on the Watch list, the US also expressed concern that a local cable operator has refused to negotiate with the Copyright Music Organization of Trinidad and Tobago (“COTT”) – the local performing rights organization, for compensation for public performance of music, including for music written by American composers.
“Particularly troubling in this case is the fact that a court in 2011 found that the local cable operator was required to obtain a public performance license and nearly two years later judicial authorities have not completed the appeal hearing nor assessed royalties owed to COTT,” the report said
“The United States is also concerned by on-going delays in the resolution of the long-standing litigation over the collection of unpaid performance royalties from the same cable operator. The United States urges the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to take all necessary actions to ensure that cable operators in Trinidad and Tobago operate in compliance with the provisions of their cable license agreements related to IPR and that, more generally, IPR is protected in its territory.”
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in welcoming the report, praised the USTR for the stance taken in the Caribbean.
“While royalities lost to rogue cable operators in the Caribbean may seem small, they are meaningful to American songwriters and composers who may use them to put a child through school or pay their rent. ASCAP takes seriously our mission to help our members receive payment when their works are being exploited for profit by foreign businesses,” said ASCAP President and Chairman, Paul Williams.