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Sep 30, 1998

Regional copyright project consultants visit Belize

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It may be a couple of years too late for members of the Sound City Band, to reap the harvest of their work on creating “Conch Soup,” the song that was stolen and made it into an international hit by a Honduras group. But serious efforts now being made to protect the region’s music industry are holding out much promise for artists to finally start getting the rewards and recognition they have been missing out on for their hard work. A consultant from the CARICOM Secretariat is currently in Belize to get feedback from key players in the local industry on the Caribbean Music Industry Development Project. According to Cultural Officer at the secretariat Carol Lawes and project consultant Beverly Periera, at the heart of the project is the upgrading of copyright laws throughout the region.

Carol Lawes, Cultural Officer, CARICOM Secretariat

“Oh there is a great hunger right now amongst the music community for not only legislation, because some form of legislation exist almost everywhere, but for the legislation that exist to be implemented. Basically what the situation is that people who are creating music wish to have some returns from the work that they are producing. They are extremely anxious that what we are doing bears some fruit quickly.

The project that we are doing involves upgrading legislation, it involves looking at and making recommendations regarding indigenous collections agencies. It involves some training and public education. So basically that is what it is and that’s what we’re doing here. We want to find out what is going on in Belize and how what we are doing can be affected by what is happening in Belize.”

Beverly Periera, Cultural Officer, CARICOM Secretariat

“What we want to do is to meet with people who are actually creating the music, people who are involved in the industry because we know the laws are what we’re looking at and so on. But also the whole industry, what doesn’t work and why, recording possibilities in Belize for example.

We are also looking to speak with users, primarily persons who use music whether for jingles or broadcasting generally or for any activity where music is used to get an idea of how they feel about it and to help them to understand that copyright is about equity. So what we’re trying to do is to discuss why it is that music should be paid for and how does that relate to cultural development.”

Periera and Lawes will be meeting with local artists, broadcasters and representatives of advertising agencies on Thursday afternoon at the Bliss Institute, to discuss the project with them. The last stop on the consultative tour of the region by the two CARICOM officials to promote the Caribbean Music Industry Development Project will be Jamaica.

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