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NCDF claiming $4m in overdue copyright fees
National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF) chairman Mahindra Satram-Maharaj wants the NCC to immediately pay his organisation approximately $4 million in royalties on behalf of several mas bands.
He was speaking at a Carnival stakeholder meeting held yesterday at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain. Satram-Maharaj said the money was owed to the bands for intellectual property for the years 2007-2012. Pre-action protocol letters dated February 1 were sent to Guardian Media Ltd (GML), One Caribbean Media Ltd (OCM) and state media Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) as well as the National Carnival Commission (NCC) by the foundation’s legal representatives, the T&T Copyright Collection Organisation (TTCO).
GML, parent company of the T&T Guardian and CNC3 TV, was asked to pay $240,000 in fees for 2007-2012 and an additional $100,00 for a licence for works of mas for 2013. Satram-Maharaj said: “I want you to recognise that historically we in T&T assume because we play mas and we make a mas we are friends, partners. We assume and take for granted the intellectual property of that design and creativity.
“From 2007-2012, as we speak, millions of dollars have been collected by the organisations responsible for mas in T&T and those monies have never been passed on to our members. It just stopped in 2007-2012. So it is not something new. The monies were collected and no one seems to know where it is.”
He claimed the NCDF represented 90 per cent of the bands who cross the Port-of-Spain stage, including 11 of the 12 large bands, such as Harts and Legacy. Discussions have been held with the NCC for the last three or four years about collecting the money, he said. “Every year they keep saying wait until after Carnival, wait until after Carnival, and they keep changing chairman,” he added. Satram-Maharaj said many of the bands often record a loss or simply break even after Carnival. Global branding of mas, he said, should be done with intellectual property in mind. “If you are looking to globally brand T&T’s mas, do it good or don't do it at all...Intellectual property is a key component of global branding,” he said.
When asked why the pre-action protocol letters were sent to the media houses, Satram-Maharaj said he did not know, since the TTCO was handling the legal aspect of the matter. The group was formerly known as the CIC (Carnival Improvement Committee). NCC chairman Allison Demas confirmed yesterday that the NCDF was an official Carnival stakeholder. She said the NCDF’s vice-chairman Jean-Paul Pouchet assisted with discussion on the parade route, but the NCBA sat on the board of NCC and was the main mas stakeholder with which the NCC directly interacted. Pushed for further comment, Demas said: “I really don’t wish to comment on this. This is not a matter for the media. This is a legal matter. The NCC has received such a letter and our attorneys are dealing with it.”