Thursday, 18 November 2010

Costa Rica musicians demand respect for copyright -- and a share of the cake

 Ofelia Taitelbaum
A group of Costa Rican musicians massed in front of the Costa Rica Ombudswoman’s Office yesterday to demand payment of royalties, recognition of copyrights and respect for the rights of musicians as workers. According to Tico Times:
"Live music, ranging in style from acoustic folk rock to cumbia, floated over the Ombudswoman’s Office Wednesday as a diverse group of musicians gathered to present a complaint regarding disrespect of copyright laws in Costa Rica [IP Tango hopes that the music in question was cleared for performance in public ...].
The group of well-respected national artists claimed that the Arias administration’s policies on intellectual property rights were too lax, and called for payment of royalties and recognition of musicians’ rights as workers. ...
The group of musicians wants businesses like radio stations, restaurants and hotels to pay royalties – in the form of a percentage of the businesses’ earnings – for the music they play [This is an interesting proposition. Businesses that file tax returns tend to minimise taxable income, and from those businesses that escape or ignore the tax net it is hard to obtain any figures anyway. Are the musicians thinking of a percentage of the gross, perhaps? One can see the hoteliers and restaurateurs holding a demonstration of their own, if that's the case], and are requesting that Ombudswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum arrange for negotiations among the artists, businesses and the Legislative Assembly. ...
While Costa Rica is a signatory to five separate international copyright conventions and treaties, Taitelbaum wants to avoid legal action. Instead, she hopes to find a compromise between artists and business owners [Such compromise agreements are preferred by governments: if and when they break down, each side blames the other, or less frequently itself, but not the government].
“We’re going to try to bring both sides together to make a compromise,” Taitlebaum said. “If not, we’ll have to satisfy the law.”
No specific plans for a formal, moderated meeting involving both musicians and business owners had been announced as of press time".
Source: "Costa Rican Musicians Demand Respect of Intellectual Property Laws", by Nate Perkins, for Tico Times here.

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