SET Journal, 07/25

Wednesday, Kevin, Christina and I went to Tower St and I got to try out my much-prepared-for workshop on copyright issues for inmates who are making creative works. We felt a strong need for this since, as inmates develop their technical skills and their creative talents, they need to develop their awareness of the rights they have and the choices they face when they use those skills and talents. My task was to try to break down the complex realities of copyright law as it relates especially to sound recording, so the inmates can make conscious choices about what rights they want to have in their music.

Highlighting the existence of choice for people whose lives are currently limited by their confinement in the prison was a key mission of my presentation. We all felt keenly that it was important to lay a framework for thinking about rights now, as already works have been recording in the prison: both well-known artists like Jah Cure, and extremely talented but unknown artists like SET Executive Board Member Serano (Director of Sports and Culture), have been recording music with other inmates and with people from outside who come in and use the SET equipment. In addition, there are several accomplished poets and quite a few other creative people making their mark, often in the SET lab on the computers or in the studio.

I explained some key concepts, gave some scenarios in which works were being put into fixed form, and we talked about what choices were open to them. Participants were very focused and asked penetrating questions about the limits and complications arising both from the difficulties in relating copyright law to Jamaican creative practices, and in understanding what their different choices might mean in their given situation. Questions abounded, from the specific (what happens when multiple people collaborate in performing/improvising a song and it is recorded by a third party?) to the general (why is it that there isn’t a uniform royalty rate set at the international level?). I had my knowledge tested on a range of subjects, but luckily there were also some in the room who could offer experience (a former radio employee provided good context on broadcasting rights, for example).

I explained the basics of copyright, and at the end had time to explain a little bit about the choices within copyright such as creative commons, which people were very interested in. Many folks were as interested in promotion or spreading their message as they were in potential royalties, and there was the beginning of some lively discussion by the time we had to leave. I think questions would have continued as long as we stayed!

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1 Comment»

  Brian wrote @

My friend has a sister in the Fort Augustus prison. She is quite concerned about conditions as she knows nothing. Are you aware of any place to get this information. She has to serve 9 months.

Thanking you advance for any peace of mind you may bring to my friend


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