DANCEHALL’S EVOLUTION is a multi-pronged instrument, as changes are happening in several sectors of the genre all at the same time.
Presently, gay rights campaigners are locked in a battle with a few of Jamaica’s most prominent deejays in an effort to silence some of their lyrics. In the meantine, a handful of local acts are quickly rising on the dancehall radar looking to break big, while acts like Sean Paul, Elephant Man, and others are busy making inroads with the genre in foreign countries. Another development silently creeping up is the increased awareness of local acts to get copyright protection for themselves.
Upcoming acts seem to be quietly registering their record label names and trademark logos before they get their big break, apparently with more enthusiasm and energy than those companies and artistes already in the business.
Troy Carby, a representative of the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), outlined to The Sunday Gleaner that to date there are roughly 100 local trademark labels registered here. Between 2002 and 2003, 34 entities made applications to the office for trademark protection, even though six were withdrawn for different reasons. Between 2003 and 2004, that number increased to 40, with the majority of these being upcoming entities.
“What we have found is that the younger artistes are more aware of it (trademark protection) and are doing it by themselves,” he states. “Four to five years ago, the older labels would come in and register and not really follow up, but now say over the past two years the younger ones are registering their names and following up on it because they know of the benefits that will accrue if they do so.”
Among these ‘benefits’ is the guarantee that if their application becomes successful, no other artiste can steal their names, logos, and whatever trademark they registered in the first place without repercussions.
“Every week you may find some artistes coming in and registering. They are not in the business yet but what they do is come in with their label and logo. They do not have the strength of cash to fully get into the business but they do the groundwork from now,” Carby continues.
According to the New Trade Marks Act which came into effect on September 1, 2001, a trade mark is defined as: ‘Any sign that is capable of being graphically represented and capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking (i.e. any person, company or business entity) from those of another undertaking. A Sign includes a word, (including a personal name), design, letter, numeral, colour, combination of colours or a combination of the foregoing or the shape of goods or their packaging. In essence therefore, a trade mark is a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or business entity.’ examples of these include ‘Walkers Wood’, ‘Reggae Boyz’, ‘Ting’, and several more.
In the music business, Carby points out that some the prominent artistes have come forward to register their stage names. On the list to date are Buju Banton, Sizzla and a few others.
The majority of those coming in however, are young hopefuls who are taking the steps to ensure they run into no problems later. To the agency, these are more interested in protecting themselves than several more established entities.
According to Carby, constant workshops and awareness programmes have led to this and with more planned, the number of locals going in to register should increase.
“We expect it to continue some more next year because we are going on a sensitisation drive next year to let more of them in the business know,” Carby continues.
In the grand scheme of things, young hopefuls registering their names without radio hits may not seem like much to those in the business. On the global front however and with the direction music is taking, these moves are timely and useful.
-The Jamaica Gleaner