“So much things to say right now, so much things to say…”
Madam Chairman; Professor Laurent Manderieux (pronounce Man-deh-ree-you); Professor Vanus James, Consultant, lecturer in Economics at UTECH; Ms. Andrea Davis and other members of Jamaica Arts Holding; Members of Staff of the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization; Representatives of the creative and financial sectors; Ladies and Gentlemen.
Allow me from the outset to salute Andrea Davis and her team for the courageous and determined stance they have upheld over the years in the promotion of Reggae Day. As we ourselves have done in recent times in the establishment of Reggae Month, the establishment of Reggae Day has been anchored in the recognition of the role played by our most outstanding cultural product in the definition of Brand identity.
In fact, this audacious act is reflective of the very nature of the Jamaican cultural identity of resilience, self promotion and courage in the face of conflict, negation or even disapproval. Congratulations, Andrea. So that today we celebrate International Reggae Day, copyrighted and trademarked for posterity and sustainable identification.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am also pleased to be here because of the nature of the activity that has been organized to celebrate this year’s staging of International Reggae Day: The International Reggae Day Copyright Forum.
Anyone who knows me will readily agree that the issue of Copyright and Related Rights is very dear to my heart. Of great significance in all this mix is the theme of today’s discussion, which seeks to address one of the fundamental issues with which so many of us have been grappling over the years: how to use our creativity and the intellectual property associated with that creativity to leverage the kinds of actions that would lend itself to wealth creation and enhanced income generation. I will say more about this later.
Ladies and gentlemen, I keep copyright issues dear to my heart because these rights constitute one of the principal foundations on which some of the most powerful elements of our people’s identity and integrity as well as financial success in the areas of culture and cultural industries are anchored.
You see, in many instances a people’s worth is measured by what they have created or simply by what they own. A people who have not created anything or who may not be linked to something spectacular will not be respected by the world. A country that celebrates the two fastest men in the world will be respected. A country with a product of international reputation and renown will likely be revered. It is a part of our advancement as a people, which allows the National Cultural Policy to see us as a potential “Cultural Superstate”.
In the words of Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey as cited in the National Cultural Policy in the Chapter on Cultural Industries:”Lagging behind in the vane of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive people will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs of the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people. But when we strike out to build industries, governments, and ..empires, then and only then we will as a people prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are capable of shaping our own destiny.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jamaica’s identity and image worldwide are both largely linked to our most vibrant creation: Reggae Music, and the wider culture which is the centrepiece of Brand Jamaica. We have created a great product for which we can be justly proud, willing to celebrate and ready to establish mechanisms for the greater benefit of all its exponents.
For this reason, my experience has shown me very clearly the need to establish regimes and strategies to protect what we create thereby eliminating questions of ownership or who should benefit from the use of what, how, when and where.
For this reason I am happy to have been asked to address this very important forum to promote another aspect of Intellectual Property and increase the level of the public’s awareness and understanding. Yes, these discussions are part of the necessary process of defining ourselves, which was the subject of my presentation in the Sectoral Debate recently. Our people need to understand more clearly the power of their creation and be able to amass and accrue wealth and prosperity from these creations. Today’s dialogue will allow us to zero-in on the kinds of possibilities of the road that lies ahead of us. This is why I welcome today’s deliberations.
At this point, then, it would be very remiss of me if I did not pause to acknowledge the work being done by JIPO in keeping the Jamaican community abreast of cutting-edge IP issues. It is very timely that this activity is being implemented so soon after the launch in March this year of the Copyright Study on the Contribution of Copyright and Related Rights Industries to the National Economy of Jamaica by Professor Vanus James with support from WIPO.
As such, I also must thank very sincerely the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for selecting Jamaica among the countries for which a Copyright study was commissioned. This reinforces my earlier sentiments as I am sure that it is the recognition of what we have created that was the basis on which WIPO made this very significant decision.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this study is already forming the basis of much discussion. The study provides empirical evidence to support the view that the Jamaican Copyright sector generates revenue, creates employment, and contributes positively to the balance of payments. No longer can there be claim that there are no statistics or that where they exist they are limited. We now have extensive analysis of the true economic value and impact of the Copyright-based sectors, thanks to the Vanus James study, and thanks to WIPO.
This study is therefore fundamental to what we need to advance even more substantially the argument for greater allocations in national budgets to cultural industries or for the creation of greater incentives for the enhancement of these industries or for a transformation in the approach to the sector by the financial sector. As such, it will point us to the way forward for the development of strategies and programmes for the advancement of the sector.
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“So much things to say right now, so much things to say…”