Book piracy continues to flourish because of paltry penalty

Dear Editor,

Dave Martins’ article in the Sunday Stabroek of July 23 highlighted an issue that is long overdue for action.

Like thousands of people in the Caribbean and the wider world, I enjoy Dave Martins’ music tremendously. Dave gave me a copy of his ‘At Home’ CD when it was released, and my staff loves it so much that I play the entire disc most Saturday mornings. Everyone leaves work in high spirits after hearing the tunes, especially ‘Rupununi Man’, ‘Tell Me You Love Me’, ‘Is We Own, Ow Beta’.

As a bookseller I am a fellow sufferer at the hands of pirates since 2001. I can therefore empathize with Dave Martins for feeling let down by the past administration as well as the current one ‒ so far. It is my hope that there will be the political will, in our lifetime, to have this copyright lawlessness put right.

I wish to emphasize political will for in 2012 the state itself showed such contempt for copyright that it tried to award contracts to printers to produce tens of thousands of books published by international companies without their approval. Astonishingly, page 62 of the tender document stipulated that “All Text and workbook must be done to a similar likeness of the original”.

A court action was mounted by five of the affected publishers, viz Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Macmillan, Pearson (Longman) and Nelson Thornes.

That action resulted in an order made by Justice Rishi Persaud on the 20th April 2016. It is a permanent injunction against all the defendants (Abbisham Boodhoo, Gandhi Sales & Investments, Metro Office & Computer Supplies, Terrence Nicholas and J Nicholas trading as T&J Bookstores & Giftland Office Max) restraining them from reproducing or offering for sale the plaintiffs’ copyrighted textbooks.

Despite the 2016 injunction, book piracy continues to flourish across the country, and the main reason for this is because it is widely known that the penalty for copyright infringement is a paltry $60. The penalty in Barbados is US$250,0000.

I wonder when Dave Martins will make another CD at home in Guyana. When? According to calypsonian Crazy it has to be “In Time to Come”.

Yours faithfully,

 Lloyd F Austin

 Austin’s Book Services

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