Entertainers need to press more forcefully for copyright laws

Dear Editor,
Michael Jackson began his posthumous career with the release of his highly anticipated final song entitled This Is It. The song debuted on Sunday last and will be distributed on Sony Music Colombia/Epic Labels by October 27. It is currently streaming on www.michaeljackson.com  for persons to get an early sample of the track.

All the international television stations worldwide played parts of the song during their news broadcast and they commented quite kindly on what a nice song it is. Lo and behold two days, later the world wakes up to a damning accusation by music legend Paul Anka that Michael Jackson’s final song This Is It is actually a carbon copy of a song he wrote 20 years ago entitled I Never Heard. According to Paul Anka, he co-wrote the song with Michael Jackson two decades ago and even did a demo of the song that was recorded on tape. Paul said that he later took the demo of the tape, refined it and released the song on his duets album Walk A Fine Line.  Paul claims that Jackson, who was starting to experience the massive success of the Thriller album, “got a big head and stole the tapes from the studio.” Paul Anka actually did threaten legal action at the time but halted after Michael returned the tapes. Later on Paul said he gave the song I Never Heard to a rock group called Safire who recorded it in 1990.

Today as I pen this letter Paul Anka is currently now being given acknowledgment for co-writing Michael Jackson’s final song This is It after his lawyers contacted Sony Music. Of course with that comes royalties of 50 percent of the song’s profit.

This is copyright laws at work! If there were no such thing as copyright laws existing in the US, Michael Jackson’s estate and Sony/Epic Records would have benefited from everything from Michael’s highly awaited final song This Is It. Paul Anka the co-author would have gotten absolutely nothing. He would have been robbed of his entitlement to some of the proceeds gained from the sale of the song. There is talk of a movie and documentary all of which will include this very song. Imagine how much Paul Anka stands to gain now that he has become a legal partner in the creation of the song’s lyrics. Imagine how much he would have lost had it not been for the existence of copyright laws.

Guyanese artistes and entertainers need to pay close attention to these issues and canvas the Guyanese Government more forcefully for the passing of copyright laws to protect the hard creative work they do. With copyright laws in Guyana, Guyanese artistes and entertainers will be the ones who will benefit the most. They cannot continue to work in an environment where no protection is there for the work they do. They need to think of copyright laws as a means of job security.

This recent manifestation of copyright laws in action, I hope, opens the eyes and minds of our local talent so they could all rise up and demand in unison that the Guyana Government hasten the passage of Copyright Laws in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Richard Francois

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