We celebrate World Intellectual Property Day on Sunday, 26 April, and this allows me the opportunity to ask — why is it we seem happy to purchase broadcasting rights for watching sporting events happening in our own back yards or watch it on ESPN, instead of owning the rights ourselves? Imagine our own cameras and crew capturing ‘the cricket’ and then setting the price for onwards distribution to the rest of the world through our own satellite technology.
Well, the fact that Intellectual Property (IP) is a valuable asset appears to be a secret to us. We continue to pay foreigners for use of their Intellectual Property instead of creating our own; therefore, one can only assume the ‘secret’ must be hidden in books, and lost to many of us who do not care for reading. This habit of ours clearly demonstrates we do not understand IP and therefore cannot value, protect or nurture our creators and build for the future. Of course, as we continue to use the property of foreign IP owners, we will allow the wealth of our nation to continue to flow out of the region, increasing our poverty level.
We have been very slow at understanding the value and importance of Intellectual Property, and only able to see the small picture, mainly through the work of the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organisation for Music Rights (ECCO). As a result, we have failed to realise that creativity and innovation are the new drivers of the world economy, and national well-being increasingly depends on the strategy a country develops to harness its intellectual capital.
It should not challenge the mind much, and simply turning this around by choosing to invest in the creation of our own Intellectual Property. Thereby, spawning a whole new generation of creators with the potential to produce the next Rihanna, Microsoft or Google.
Within the so-called knowledge-based, innovation-driven economies, the IP system is a dynamic tool for wealth creation — providing an incentive for individuals as well as businesses to create and innovate; a fertile setting for the development of (and trade in) intellectual assets; and a stable environment for domestic and foreign investment of IP in today’s knowledge-driven economies.
A recent OECS study has shown that you get back more from investment in copyright-based industries than from any other sector. Investment in this sector, would therefore stimulate creativity and kick-start economic growth through wealth creation and business development, and could spawn a whole network of support services, including event organisers & management, telecommunication technologies, graphic designers, studio services (producers, engineers, arrangers, session musicians etc.), agents, promoters, the film industry (directors producers, writer, editors, technicians and distributors), clubs and venues, hotel industry (tour guides, taxi drivers, airlines, etc.), media (broadcasters, journalist, DJs, newspapers and magazines), etc.
This Labour Day and eve of World IP Day ECCO calls to the fore, men of influence and intellect, to talk to those amongst us who can affect the changes necessary, to build an industry that can release us from foreign dependency on Intellectual Property content and the control and dominance this leads to.
Eastern Caribbean Collection Organisation for Music Rights