The piracy of textbooks is not the sole issue, it is the ostracisation of Guyana’s cultural industries
The question of piracy in general and the specific issue of the piracy of textbooks no longer lie within the legal framework of prosecuting this or that printer, now that the state has revealed that citizens were given the mandate to steal from a Cabinet consensus. It is the Government of Guyana that is now liable for IPR theft, for breaking the WTO/copyright agreements it has signed. It is difficult to reply to people or persons who write articles under pseudonyms; it reveals a character flaw that indicates cowardice, but I must in this case address the screwed mindset of ‘Peeping Tom’ of Kaieteur News an obvious government apologist. This person or persons has wasted two articles in an attempt to justify state piracy: Sunday September 16 and 23, 2012.
This mindset seems prevalent in the PPP; we witnessed it recently when Anil Nandlall took Parliament to court; when it was revealed that the government justified the racial delusion that Afro-Guyanese were unqualified as ambassadors; when Dr Ramsammy denied any connection to Roger Khan; when Parvati’s recent Nazi article appeared in the Chronicle, to cite a few; and now Peeping Tom. Peeping Tom boasts in KN’s edition of Sunday, Sept 23 of the great wealth behind the thieves of copyright that will protect them from those institutions they have violated and the local talent the state apparatus continues to violate and refuses to embrace with any respect.
Time will prove that there are ways and means to address every violation; no wonder we have engaged the Chinese, this planet’s foremost counterfeiters to flood our markets with junk that the money-laundering criminal business class was already doing at a slower pace.
And this all to terminate the possibilities of the re-emergence of the cottage industries of tailors, seamstresses, soft toy creators, furniture makers, etc. The crowning hypocrisy is that although government has assumed this very anti-copyright stance in respect of our local talent, it has spent millions fighting a copyright/trademark case for ‘Demerara Gold.’
Textbook piracy represents a statement on the type of civilization we’re developing: retrogression, rather than progress. I did not come from wealthy parents; there were cases of textbooks purchased from older children, from second-hand book stands, neatly covered to conceal previous names. This did not affect my education. No printer would have reprinted textbooks, not under the PNC government. The textbook piracy problem is not one of poor homes, it’s one of kickbacks.
In primary school I bought textbooks badly photocopied and half the original size for both of my younger children, that were produced in full colour by the then Curriculum Development Unit, administered by Mr Oswald Kendall in the Queen’s Collage compound, during the late seventies and early eighties, and I knew some of the teachers and artists that worked on these projects back then.
If the education officers want to be truthful, they would report that teachers say there is a greater cry of hungry children turning up at school, especially at the primary level, with no school inspectors around to determine the specifics. One can easily presume that given their low incomes parents can hardly pay the heavy utility bills and prepare a balanced diet.
If NCN paid every Guyanese recording artiste whose music they play it would not amount annually to 5% of the money in the misfeasance matter involving senior members of management.
This is the crux of the debate about copyright and it must be applied locally. I managed two talented artistes for a friend in the US of A; they produced an album, and I gave the CD to a friend of theirs at NCN to introduce it on radio. Soon it was being played in cars and clubs, and was being sold on pirated CDs. I paid them the stipend sent from overseas, but of course, they never received a cent in royalties from local radio which continues to play their music.
Recently one of the group started going into the interior, and was on a boat that was searched on the ‘Landing’; marijuana was found among some pineapples and the only Rasta man on the boat which happened to be my young artiste friend was charged. Without back-up money he was immediately charged and is still on remand.
Had his copyright been respected and his royalties paid, would he have shelved his musical career and ventured into unknown territory? Knowing him I doubt it.
This unreasonable communist perception that the creativity of the nation must not be legitimately engaged, rewarded or encouraged but its products vampirized to enrich every Tom, Dick and Harry through ads, TV programmes and even death announcements, is affecting all talented Guyanese.
It may be okay to an untalented Peeping Tom, but jewellers, designers of furniture, craftsmen and women are all marginalized by the fact that our copyright and patent laws have not been upgraded and both customs and the police educated on their implementation. Thus it is not the piracy of textbooks alone that is the issue, but the very ostracizing of Guyana’s cultural industries. This is the danger of the PPP mindset.