Pirates killing music industry
Barbadian artists and musicians lose as much as $2 million annually.Instead of going into their pockets as royalties, that money is being raked in by pirates.According to the Chief Executive Officer of COSCAP, Erica Smith, piracy has affected the industry so much, that fewer than 50 music albums are produced annually in Barbados, and fewer than 30 000 units sold every year since numbers peaked in the 1990s.According to Smith, piracy of works by Barbadian musicians has grown tremendously over the past decades, with Bajan pirates making record sales on the streets of London, New York and Toronto.Smith brought the issue to the fore yesterday, the second and final day of the inaugural Diaspora Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.She said that along with the pirates, local artists are seriously affected by a lack of a clear structure in place to protect intellectual property. “Generally, there is a lack of understanding of the nature and management of intellectual property rights across Barbados,” Smith told the audience. “The inability to identify the intellectual property rights created and used by businesses and cultural entrepreneurs remains as well as the high cost of ensuring these rights,” she complained.Smith said that another major issue facing Barbados’ cultural industry, was that apart from in July and August during Crop-Over, Barbados continues to export at least 80 per cent of its royalties.COSCAP wants it the other way around, with Barbadians being able to have royalties constantly being imported. “This reflects the fact that we report the use of predominantly international music.”She noted that another major challenge was the withholding tax regime which is complicated even more by the low usage of local content.Within CARICOM, the witholding tax is 15 per cent, zero from Britain, and five per cent from the United States. “What this means,” Smith explained, “is that we are using very little local and regional content on radio, for example. Yet, for the little money we are able to collect, we have to deduct a higher rate of witholding tax. What we are doing is discriminating against our own,” Smith concluded.