Recently the office of US Trade Representative announced that the island was now in the negative group of countries because the US “is concerned about local TV and radio broadcasters’ refusal to pay for public performances of music”. In response, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a representative body for 460,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers has now said it was happy with decision, something it had openly lobbied for.
“We are especially pleased that, for the first time, USTR has placed Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago on the Special 301 Watch List, and has also cited public performance royalties as a reason to retain Jamaica on that list,” the organisation said in a new response to the decision.
“ASCAP urged USTR to do so, because in all these countries, leading cable operators and broadcasters refuse to pay for the public performance of music, or even to negotiate with the local performing rights organisations [ASCAP’s partners].
“In these countries and throughout the Caribbean region, issues of non-payment go without remedy before the courts and other government authorities, and ASCAP applauds the efforts of USTR to increase government accountability for these failings,” it added.
ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams also said that while royalties lost to “rogue cable operators” in Barbados and other Caribbean countries might 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,” he said.
In adding Barbados to the negative list the USTR said American rights holders “complain that both private and government-owned broadcasters in Barbados either fail to obtain licences from the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers Inc. or fail to pay for all of the applicable rights even if they are licensed by COSCAP”.
“In addition, even though 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,” it said in the report.
“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.
“In addition, the United States is concerned 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,” it added. (SC)