Get up, stand up. For music.” is the theme of World Intellectual Property Day, 2015.

When Bob Marley and the Wailers laid down the opening track on Burnin’ in a Kingston recording studio some four decades ago, they likely had little idea how far their simple, straightforward tune would resonate, becoming an enduring international anthem for human rights.

Gone are the days of CDs, cassettes and vinyl records. Today, music is recorded and distributed digitally. In addition to owing music content, streaming sites such as Spotify have established large libraries, enabling listeners to access almost anything on demand.

World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry, discussed these developments in his message in commemoration of Word Intellectual Property Day, 2015:

Thanks to digital technology and the Internet, we now have access to more music than ever before. The Internet has created a global marketplace and global stage for music. That is a wonderful thing for music lovers all over the world.

We need to ensure that we do not lose sight of creators and performers in the new digital economy. Is their role given sufficient value in these new systems? This is an essential question. It is essential for a vibrant culture that creators, composers, songwriters and performers are able to enjoy a decent economic existence through deriving economic value from their music. Without them, we don’t have music.

Enormous artistic, personal, social and economic effort goes into the creation and the performance of music. We must find a way of ensuring its sustainability in the economy. My message for World Intellectual Property Day is – do not take music for granted; value it.

Today is a day to “get up, stand up, for music” – to ensure that our musicians get a fair deal, and that we value their creativity and their unique contribution to our lives.

More and more local artistes are offering their music for sale on iTunes and other digital platforms. Soca superstar Machel Montano’s 2015 Carnival album Monk Monté is also available to subscribers of Spotify, giving greater exposure of his music to an brand new market. This comes as pop artiste Taylor Swift has removed all her music from streaming services, citing insufficient royalties which have negatively impacted on her sales.

Copyright law defines the rights conferred on authors of original works, and those who perform them, as well as those who support their widespread dissemination (i.e. record companies and broadcasters).

Once a work has been created – lyrics or musical notes written down, arranged or recorded – copyright protection kicks in. There is no formal obligation to register a work with a national authority, although in some countries, such the US, registering a work with the Library of Congress is the only way to bring a court action for infringement.

Under the 1886 WIPO Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, an original work is protected for a minimum of 50 years after the author’s death but in many jurisdictions that figure can be 70 years or more.

The Trinidad and Tobago Intellectual Property Office has embarked on a campaign entitled Nobody likes ah music Pirate, to sensitize the public on the scourge of music piracy in  this country.

This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign theme, “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music” is a reminder that music is something of lasting value to society, to the economy and to our culture. Besides its intrinsic human and cultural worth, the economic value of music flows from the intellectual property (IP) rights associated with original works, their performance and dissemination. These rights shape and underpin the myriad commercial deals that take place within the music industry every day.

The Trinidad and Tobago public continues to view piracy as a victim-less crime, and much more public education is necessary to convince citizens to get up and stand up for music and musicians.

With commentary from the article Creating Value from Music – the Rights that Make it Possible by Catherine Jewell, Communications Division, WIPO, taken from the World Intellectual Property Day website.


About The Author Jason Nathu

Jason Nathu is an Attorney-at-Law and Tutor attached to the Legal Aid Clinic at the Hugh Wooding Law School.