Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Business, Gabrielle Springer (FP)
Issues relevant to intellectual property, its protection and the implications for the Caribbean, will come into focus this week with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO, Geneva) sub-regional meeting on Copyright and Related Rights for Caribbean Countries being held here.
The meeting, which began today, is a collaborative effort between WIPO and the Corporate Affairs Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) of Barbados. It was officially opened by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Business, Gabrielle Springer, who spoke on behalf of Minister George Hutson. She underscored the relevance and importance of the deliberations which will take place over the next two days.
"At the regional level, we are all committed to the protection of intellectual property rights as provided in Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus; and we have, for quite some time, recognised the tremendous potential for economic development through the exploration of our intellectual property assets. WIPO has been, and continues to be, instrumental in the provision of technical assistance to Regional Intellectual Property Offices, thereby increasing our capacity to make greater use of what is indigenous to our region," she explained.
Ms. Springer also elaborated on current legislation which is in place to ensure the protection of creative works.
"Barbados has long recognised the importance of copyright which gives rights to creators for their literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works. In 1998, Barbados introduced a new Copyright Act which was amended in 2004 to allow for the imposition of stiffer penalties for offences committed under the Act. There was a further amendment to the legislation in 2006 to deal with the expansion and the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal which was established to hear and determine complaints that are referred to it by artistes or organisations on their behalf.
"In 2000, the Government of Barbados established a Copyright Unit which was intended and does support Government’s efforts to promote the protection of intellectual property rights. It is the focal point for the protection of copyright in Barbados where persons can call and obtain advice on copyright and related matters," the Permanent Secretary remarked.
Even with these measures in place, the digital age has continued to present new challenges for intellectual property protection, as information can now be widely disseminated, accessed and duplicated. Ms. Springer noted that national efforts seek to keep pace with these changes.
"As far as our Copyright Act, Cap. 300 is concerned, it is recognised that the existing legislation does not adequately address the requirements of the digital environment for which further examination and amendment would be required. This is currently being undertaken at CAIPO, together with an examination of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (Geneva, 1996), and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (Geneva, 1996), as part of the process towards accession to these treaties to which the Government of Barbados is also committed," the Permanent Secretary explained.
Assistant Director General, Culture and Creative Industries Sector, WIPO (Geneva), Barbadian Trevor Clarke, agreed that the greatest task faced by copyright globally was protecting rights in the current internet era.
"This challenge that rights holders face, where protected material is so easily available all over the world, has created a tension in the copyright industry.?? Rights holders want more security, they want to make sure that they are paid [for their product], and of course, users want quick access, easy access, if not low cost, no cost," Mr. Clarke explained.??
He added that the relevant entities must ensure that developments in copyright benefit both industrial and developing countries, and assured that WIPO would continue to provide organisations, like CAIPO, with improved technical assistance to better equip them to contribute to national intellectual protection.??
Mr. Clarke stressed that the products that intellectual property agencies were mandated to protect were of great value, and he emphasised the need for regional governments to acknowledge the economic potential in their national creativity.
The meeting ends tomorrow.