Local copyright body tackles Facebook, COTT and its own relevance

Not content with harassing the media and party promoters, the Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Organisation (TTCO) has opted to go after the big fish, Facebook and its users.

So, if you believe spending upwards of $4,000 on a carnival costume and hundreds more on gym fees entitles you to share those happy, uncensored memories on Facebook then think again.

“If you take those photos and post them on Facebook, what you have done is give someone the option of graphics,” TTCO president Richard Cornwall told the Trinidad Newsday. “They can pull these images and compile them in a magazine which could then be used for commercial gain.

“If that could be traced to your website page, you can be held accountable as the source for the act of infringement.”

Whether anyone takes seriously a threat from an organisation that, in 2013, does not have an official website or Facebook page is another matter entirely. And even the Newsday got its name and acronym wrong as the body was incorrectly referred to as the “Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Collection Organisation (TTCCO).”

The Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT), which is the real heavy in the royalties shakedown business, advised the public to ignore “rogue and fly by night” organisations.

Photo: Meet the mob (Image from "American Gangster")

Photo: Meet the mob
(Image from “American Gangster”)

TTCO retorted by describing COTT as “self-serving.”

To add to the farce, officials of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have supposedly agreed to come to Trinidad to mediate the turf war.

WIPO is the only UN body that does not need hand-outs from member nations to get by and, unlike say UNAIDS, reportedly has over 100 million Swiss Francs in the bank. Perhaps. Like all transparency-shy institutions, WIPO banks in Switzerland, which is famous for keeping financial secrets and not being picky about business ventures of its rich clients.

Its director general, “Don” Francis Gurry, has just one year’s experience in the free market as an attorney and spent the rest of his life lecturing in Melbourne before he joined WIPO, 25 years ago.

The WIPO director general post carries a six-year term and no limit to how long you can run for office. Its second president Árpád Bogsch, a former civil servant, managed to keep his job for 27 years between the ages of 54 and 81.

Just the sort of progressive dudes you need for this ever-rapidly evolving industry in which mas bands like Island People post images of their costumes on Facebook and entertainers like Bunji Garlin distribute free samples of their music online.

Mr Live Wire suggests that WIPO throws its bois in the local gayelle and all three lumbering pre-Google era copyright bodies fight it out; if not to the death, then at least until complete irrelevance.

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