The Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) and the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) have stepped up their drive to force promoters of music events to pay copyright fees.
However, several promoters have charged that the two entities are unreasonable and unfair in demanding “ridiculous fees” for these events. JACAP charges between $3,000 and $12,000 for small parties, fêtes, dances, karaoke sessions, stage shows and similar events, and a percentage of the gate receipt for major events such as Reggae Sumfest and the annual Jazz Festival.
For JAMMS, the charge to promoters ranges from a low of $3,000 to a high of $50,000, based on the type of event.
Under the law, event promoters must show the size of the event by declaring the estimated number of patrons.
Based on the size of the event, promoters should pay the applicable licence fee to get a copyright permit for public performance of sound recordings.
If a copyright permit is not obtained, performance of music in public is unauthorised, and constitutes an infringement of the provisions of the Copyright Act (1993).
However, over the years, several promoters have ignored this requirement and staging their sessions without the requisite permits.
To make sure that party promoters pay up, JAMMS and JACAP have teamed up with the police so that permits for these events are not be issued until the copyright fees are paid.
In the meanwhile, promoters say if they pay the money charged by JACAP and JAMMS, the events would be operated at a loss.
“This is an added expense that we really don’t need to take on. The price of everything – such as liquor, disc jockeys and the venues – is already raising,” declared a promoter of a weekly Corporate Area session.
“Promotion is also getting more expensive because everybody wants to remain competitive. With all these prices going up, you don’t need anything else to be added to an already-inflated budget,” said the promoter who asked that his name be withheld.
“I have paid them on several occasions, but I personally think it is robbery. To be honest, I don’t think the fee JACAP charges should be more than a KSAC permit.
“It is simply unreasonable and irrational. I understand the artistes are due credit for their work, but that sum of money is just ridiculous. Parties are being held all across the island every day, you can’t possibly expect to charge all of them fees within that region,” added the promoter.
“They are talking about protecting the rights of the artistes, yet these same artistes don’t complain when you use their songs to advertise the party, and some don’t necessarily charge you to do a dub for the party.”
JAMMS reported that recorder producers who are members of the society were given a summer payout this year.
According to JAMMS, since 2009, it has distributed about $34 million in royalties, with 50 per cent of that amount going to its hundreds of members locally, and the rest going to international rights owners.