Wed | Apr 8, 2020

JACAP vs CVM - Copyright breach case continues in Supreme Court today

Published:Thursday | February 20, 2020 | 12:14 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
JACAP General Manager Lydia Rose.
JACAP General Manager Lydia Rose.

CVM Television Limited is currently before the court, in an action brought against them by the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP), a performance rights licensing body. The case got under way in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and is set to resume this morning at 10.

It was the first of a seven-day trial, in which both parties appeared to be quite upbeat. JACAP actioned the lawsuit in 2015 and General Manager Lydia Rose told The Gleaner that the case involves copyright breach.

“CVM feels that they should not be paying for musical works that they used on their TV shows and on their TV stations. This has been going on from 2013 to present. In fact, they were paying before, but then they decided that they don’t want to honour their obligations of paying for copyright.”

‘No breach’

CVM, however, is staunchly defending their position that there is no breach and has called into question JACAP’s authority. “We are saying that there is no infringement and we have several issues,” Nigel Jones of CVM’s legal team told The Gleaner. CVM is questioning the right of JACAP to bring such a suit, and states that “JACAP has no capacity or standing” in relation to many of the societies they say that they represent.

However, JACAP’s lawyer, Chad Lawrence, countered the argument. “The defendant has raised a preliminary point as it regards the non-exclusive licences we have for some of our reciprocal arrangements that authorise us to collect and to issue licences. Those submissions were made today and the court is adjourned to Thursday. But JACAP does hold exclusive and non-exclusive rights,” he told The Gleaner.

Of note is the fact that Lawrence requested, and was granted, time on Tuesday to read through the material presented by CVM’s legal team, hence the adjournment of the case until today.

WhatsApp blast

JACAP represents over two million creators of music worldwide, including over 3,400 Jamaicans, and urged them, via a WhatsApp blast, to attend court on Tuesday “to show support for the organisation’s efforts to protect your rights”.

Rose had stated in a release earlier that, “The creators of music are unhappy with the illegal use of their works and have mandated JACAP to take violators to court for infringement of their copyright.”

She told The Gleaner that while infringement is a straight win, “the law has technicalities. It depends on the conclusions that are arrived at based on the evidence presented. But we don’t see where JACAP would be losing this case in its entirety. Certain things are not in dispute.”

She added, “We are pleased so far, because they have not stated that they have not infringed, but they are disputing the type of infringement.”

JACAP was established in 1999 and has, to date, paid out over J$180 million in royalties to its members. Under the 1993 Copyright Act of Jamaica, all users of copyright music are required to get a licence for the use of music.