Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Intellectual Property Office - Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago

Music and Carnival

Music and Carnival

The Caribbean region has produced some of the most unique and vibrant musical creations to which the entire world dances. The structure of the music industry in Trinidad n Tobago is such that its strengths are in the artists’ artistic and intellectual productions. The rapid decline in local record sales can be explained simply by piracy.

According to Section 5 (1) Copyright is a property right which subsists in literary and artistic works that are original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain, including in particular –
a) books, pamphlets, articles, computer programs and other writings;
b) speeches, lectures, addresses, sermons and other works of the same nature;
c) dramatic works, dramatico-musical works, pantomimes, choreographic works and other works created for stage productions;
d) stage productions of works mentioned in paragraph (c)
e) musical works, with or without accompanying words;
f) audio-visual works;
g) works of architecture;
h) works of drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, lithography, tapestry and other works of fine art;
i) photographic works;
j) works of applied art;
k) illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science.

Music Piracy is where the composer, recording artist or copyright holding recording company does not give consent to the copying and distributing of their musical works. The recording industry includes recording contracts, publishing, licensing, studio recordings. Piracy is therefore a form of copyright infringement, which is a civil wrong and under certain circumstances can be convicted through criminal liability under our Copyright Act 2008.
Even though the general public may think of piracy as a victimless crime, this form of copyright infringement damages the creativity of the professionals’ ability to earn a living from his artistic work. Therefore, when artists make their music they must ensure that they protect themselves by protecting their creations properly, if not the ramifications are high which result in profits being cut from the pockets of the artist.

In Trinidad and Tobago the music industry thrives mainly around the Carnival season. Before the season even starts, many artist have already composed, produced and published numerous songs; some of which are soca, chutney, calypso and kaiso just to name a few. Without these various types of musical creations Carnival as we know it would cease to exist as they play a vital role in its successes.

These artists invest valuable time, capital and other resources into their work and the profits in most instances end up in the pockets of pirates instead of where should rightful be. It is the same local artist who loses this revenue that will inject and invest back into the economy in one way or another; this in turn will help to boost revenue. However due to pirates they are not able to collect the royalties that are rightfully theirs.

Therefore people need to see and understand that they are not only taking from the artist but also from the economy. This is a disincentive to upcoming artist in the music industry and will soon hinder future growth and development. Artists should consult the different copyright organizations to ensure that they and their music are fully protected.

The Copyright Act 2008 is here to ensure that artists’ receive the proper protection they so rightfully deserve. It is however their responsibility to know their rights, protect themselves and the originality of their work.

Around the Carnival season many of our artists’ musical creations are exploited. Although there are incentives from the government for the various competitions, due to pirates, many artists’ are discouraged from engaging in further musical creations. Section 8(1), Section 9 (1), Section 17, Section 18 (1), Section 38 and Section 41, Section 41 A (1), are some of the sections of the Act that persons involved in the music industry should be mindful of.