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Chaos over publishing rights on social media

Saturday, February 15, 2014

T&T Carnival may have a low profile on Facebook this year. There is confusion over Carnival copyright and accreditation issues after several professional photographers were told they would not be allowed to post images of masqueraders or mas events on social media. This directive was said to have come from the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) although its president David Lopez laughingly denied the validity of the information.



National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Allison Demas, however, was up to yesterday investigating photographers’ claims that they had been told online publishing rights had been awarded to one photographic organisation. Demas said she was trying to clarify the situation. “My understanding is that the NCBA has given the rights for online streaming and photography in relation to mas events to one person,” she confirmed. 



But that is not the  NCC’s official position. Her organisation, she said, believes that: “The widest possible access (should) be given to media, subject to physical constraints of space at each venue.” Demas said neither Pan Trinbago nor the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) had any accreditation issues.



Photographers blanked 
Earlier this week photographer Narend Sooknarine collected an accreditation application form from the NCC offices at the Queen’s Park Savannah. The form indicated that he would need to collect signatures from four organisations: Pan Trinbago, NCBA, TUCO and the NCC. When Sooknarine approached the official from the NCBA, he was told he would not be allowed to publish photos online, as someone had already purchased the exclusive rights for internet-related content for Carnival.


This would mean that no photographer would be allowed to publish Carnival footage on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform or Web site during the season.  Justin Gosein, a director of Lime TT, said he  had conversations with both the NCC and the NCBA and the process with NCC was smooth. He said in his discussion with the NCBA representative he was given a quote of $21,000 for accreditation and was then told he would not be allowed to publish content on any social media sites.


“I was told that the rights for social media had been purchased. But when I asked, they refused to name the agency which bought the rights. “It is extremely discouraging for photographers promoting this country’s culture. There are so many barriers, photographers are nervous about coverage because of threats of fines. “If all media did a blackout on Carnival it would leave a great big hole in the festival,” Gosein said. 



The publishing of material, whether as broadcast, print or online, is a copyright issue and the NCBA does not have a copyright function. The NCBA does, however, provide accreditation for the media. Accreditation is the certification that credentials have been accepted so access can be given for coverage of an event. It has nothing to do with publishing.


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