Guyana cannot have a prosperous film industry without copyright laws

Dear Editor,

In a bid to ‘develop’ the Guyanese film industry, President Bharrat Jagdeo has pledged $30 million to a project entitled ‘President Film Endowment Project 2011.’ This is a very gallant effort by the President that is deserving of commendation. The other stakeholders with vested interests in seeing the re-emergence of the Guyanese film industry must also be congratulated for the various roles they will play in this magnanimous effort.

Developing the moving picture industry, will most likely serve as an excellent avenue for established and upcoming writers, producers and actors to channel their creative energies. None can deny the lasting effects of audio-visual productions that utilize moving pictures.

However, what I find rather disturbing even as this splendid initiative is being put forward, is the deafening silence from all of the stakeholders involved, including the President on the issue of copyright law. There are some very influential people involved in this project and so far none is on record questioning the viability of a Guyanese film industry in a land of piracy.

Guyana has a fledging cinema industry that is almost extinct but focus is on developing a film industry? In June 2011, eleven mainstream movies were released internationally including X-Men First Class, Super 8, The Art of Getting By, Green Lantern, Bad Teacher, Cars 2, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. How many Guyanese have seen those films? Where do Guyanese get their movies from?

In the wake of this ambitious proposal I expected that there would have been more strenuous calls from concerned Guyanese for the passage of copyright laws which can safeguard the income for the talent of those involved in producing these films. How are film studios, choreographers, screenwriters, pre and post-production personnel, and actors being paid? Will they not be expecting royalties?

I believe the President is getting ahead of himself with this film project. What he should be doing first is ensuring that Guyana has mechanisms in place to protect the intellectual property of those involved in the arts and culture. Pledging an additional $30 million to the ‘film industry’ in a land with no copyright laws is throwing away hard-earned taxpayers’ money.

Guyana cannot have a sensible and prosperous film industry without copyright laws.

Yours faithfully,
Richard Francois

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