The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) and the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) have teamed to sensitise the public to the implications of breaching Jamaica’s copyright laws.
Details were unveiled at a joint media briefing hosted by both agencies, at the Police Officers Club, Hope Road, Kingston, on Tuesday (August 25).
Head of the OCID, Superintendent Fitz Bailey, noted that the initiative comes in light of a seeming unawareness of the dangers which trading in illicit goods, such as bootleg music compact discs (CDs) and movie digital video discs (DVDs), pose for Jamaica in the global context, in addition to threatening the livelihood of the owners of the material.
To this end, he said that both agencies will collaborate on developing a programme targeting these individuals, which they will embark on, shortly. He pointed out that, in light of Jamaica being a signatory to various conventions and treaties on intellectual property, failure by the local authorities to enforce anti-piracy laws, as stipulated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), would tarnish Jamaica’s image, globally.
In disclosing that the police have seized over 50,000 illegal CDs and DVDs, and made some 70 arrests in connection with these activities within the Corporate Area since January, Supt. Bailey underscored their responsibility to ensure that the copyright legislation is enforced.
“Currently, there is a proposal on the table for Copyright legislation, including (the) Trademark and Patent Act, to be taught at the police training school, so that those (graduates) who are coming fresh out of training will have an appreciation of the legislation, and assist with the enforcement,” he outlined.
Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID), Superintendent Fitz Bailey (centre), addressing journalists during a joint media briefing staged with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), at the Police Officers’ Club, Hope Road, Kingston, on Tuesday (August 25.). Beside him are Detective Inspector Yvonne Roofe of OCID, (left) and JIPO’s Legal Counsel, Lilyclaire Bellamy. The agencies outlined plans for a joint initiative to heighten awareness about the consequences of copyright breaches.
He disclosed that a sensitisation programme has already commenced within the JCF, through OCID, in which members are making presentations on enforcement strategies to various police divisions.
“In addition to that, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Crime has actually mandated (divisional) commanders to ensure that enforcement of the legislation is strictly adhered to, within their formations,” he added.
Citing that the initiatives should yield significant positive results Supt. Bailey, however, lamented what he described as “some challenges” experienced in the courts. He alluded to Section 46 of the Copyright Act, which stipulates that an offender can be fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to up to two years imprisonment, on conviction in a Resident Magistrate’s court, and a similar fine and/or up to five years on conviction in a Circuit Court.
“We find that it’s just a small amount of the (maximum) fines, maybe between $1,000 and $5,000, that are being imposed,” he explained.
Supt. Bailey said that, because the fines imposed are insignificant, in most instances, they are paid, the offenders are released and they go straight back on the street to do the same things, again. However, he admitted that the police could not dictate to the courts.
“I hope that during the sensitisation programme, we can try to see if we can have discussion with the judiciary, in terms of the penalties. What we want to do is to see whether, through training or persuasion or encouragement, we can get judges to understand the nature of and the volume of the problem,” he said.
JIPO’s Legal Counsel, Liliclaire Bellamy, disclosed that the agency has been staging training sessions with members of the judiciary.
“Under the initiative, we worked with the Chief Justice, and we have had specialised training with members of the judiciary to apprise them,” she said.
Regarding Supt. Bailey’s concern about low fines, Ms. Bellamy explained that this resulted from the discretion of the presiding judge.
Regarding Jamaica’s international obligations, she warned that failure to adhere to specific stipulations could result in serious sanctions.
“In other words, another state could impose trade sanctions against Jamaica, and trade sanctions don’t necessarily have to fall in the area of intellectual property,” she said.