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Story Highlights

  • Plans to protect the genre of Reggae music under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention, continues in earnest.
  • Over the last 50 years, reggae music has garnered worldwide acceptance and praises, through the talents and work of musical greats, such as Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.
  • The Commerce Ministry, along with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, and the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), have been engaged in dialogue with reggae industry stakeholders on how best to craft the protection of the art form.

State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, says plans to protect the genre of Reggae music under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention, continues in earnest.

Reggae, which is one of Jamaica’s foremost indigenous music forms, has had a colossal impact on the world stage.

Over the last 50 years, reggae music has garnered worldwide acceptance and praises, through the talents and work of musical greats, such as Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said her Ministry, along with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, and the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), have been engaged in dialogue with reggae industry stakeholders on how best to craft the protection of the art form.

“We are not only responding to the call from players in the reggae industry for greater IP protection. Reggae as they say, is the heartbeat of Jamaica, and we have to do all that is necessary to keep that heart beating,” she said.

The State Minister, who was making her contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 18, said two strategies are presently being looked at.

These are: a certification mark to designate ‘authentic reggae’ and/or obtaining inscription of reggae on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as a possible certification mark for ‘Reggae’ and/or ‘Jamaica Reggae’, to promote use of Jamaican artistes, studios, musicians and merchandise.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said consultations have been held with various stakeholders from the Jamaican music industry, including musicians, composers, producers, performers and representatives from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) and the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA).

Discussions have also been held with academics from the University of the West Indies, Mona and from the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, as well as with representatives from the Rastafari community.

“From June 10-11, 2013, JIPO also hosted Professor Rob Bowman from York University, Canada, to lead a series of consultations in Jamaica related to the protection of reggae,” she informed.

Through the assistance of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Professor Bowman is undertaking a study to analyse the history of reggae as a complete art form, including music, art, dance and fashion, in order to assess the role that IP can play in supporting the development of the industry in Jamaica.

The State Minister said more consultations will take place with various stakeholders in the industry.

Meanwhile, the State Minister said the Government is also moving to implement a joint recommendation, along with the Government of Barbados to safeguard the names of both countries.

The ‘Joint Recommendation Concerning Provisions on the Protection of Country Names’ is intended to guide IP offices in examining trademarks, which contain, or are derived from a country name.

It proposes uniform protection for country names against conflicting marks, business identifiers and domain names, bad faith use, and conflict.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams informed that Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, along with representatives from the Creative Industries Commission and JIPO, recently met with WIPO expert, Simon Arnholt, to discuss Jamaica’s interest in country branding. She said further work will continue for the protection of Jamaica’s brand.