Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Entertainment consultant/manager, Teddy Laidley is suggesting that bootleggers who sell CDs in the Corporate Area and other locations in Jamaica, be certified and registered by Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) and the entertainment ministry so some profits from their earnings may go back into the hands of rightful copyright owners.
According to the consultant, the Government and other bodies have sought to give bootleggers criminal records in a bid to dissuade the practice to no avail. However, by certifying and registering persons who sell CDs, and not calling the activity illegal, the music industry will benefit.
"Why do we have to criminalise more of our people? Why not certify them and make them a functional part of the collection system?" Laidley asked.
"For piracy to exist there has to be an end user and what I am saying is regulate the thing," he said.
The consultant is therefore asking JACAP, Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) or the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment to identify bootleggers, create an inventory, decide on a registration fee and permit bootleggers to sell CDs with a licence. A percentage of the sales from the CDs will then go back to JACAP and JAMMS, which will in turn be paid over to the copyright owners.
"JACAP and JAMMS must have field officers who go around and collect. So that means we would have to allocate designated areas for selling CDs, for example, Half-Way Tree," he said.
Laidley also said CDs should be properly labelled with the songs that are being sold, so the collecting agencies can best identify where to position themselves as it relates to payment of the royalties.
He says at present, bootleggers are selling CDs with tacky branding, using markers and crayons, which in most cases do not even credit the creators of the work.
"When we have these things in place, if the police goes to a bootlegging vendor and says 'where is your registration or licence?', he or she can present the relevant paperwork. All we need to do is regulate and formulate this music business and move right ahead; there is really no rocket science to this," he said.
The consultant believes this move could revive the local music industry significantly as it relates to sales locally, much like the glory days of vinyl.
He says during the days of vinyl, local artistes sold thousands of records through local record shops, however, the CD revolution destroyed that avenue.
"CDs replaced the vinyl but we haven't mastered how to earn royalties from CDs because of bootlegging. But with my idea, music can sell again. We have to join JACAP and revamp this industry. The bootleggers can be an extension of the record shop. So don't criminalise people but regulate and if you don't conform, then you should be penalised," said Laidley.
JACAP's chairman, Paul Barclay thinks that while Laidley's views were unorthodox, they were ambitious.
He says JACAP could not authorise bootleggers to sell CDs because bootlegging is an illegal act.
According to the chairman, some of the CDs sold by bootleggers are not authentic and may have been stolen or illegally downloaded.
"If the artiste gave the bootlegger the permission to sell his product, that's a different thing. But if they are not permitted then we could not grant licence to commit an illegal act," Barclay said.
In the meantime, Laidley believes local authorities are thinking within a box, and is challenging them to exit their comfort zones and make daring decisions if they want progress.
"We have to start thinking that there is no box and start getting things done," he said.