Jagdeo lobbies for continued access to bootleg and pirated material

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Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Thursday joined other local public commentators to express fears over the coalition Government’s move to table and pass into law new intellectual copyright legislation soon.

Jagdeo believes the move to protect internationally produced material will be crippling for many businesses engaged in the sale of bootleg, pirated and plagiarized material.

“It will be a revolution in Guyana… This government – when it passes that next year – every video store in this country will have to close that sells these bootlegs and every store that sells music now will have to shut down too and the guys who are doing the push carts they can be charged and they will have to stop too,” the Opposition Leader told reporters at a noon press conference.

Jagdeo said Guyanese will be made to pay for all internationally produced material, a move he believes is designed to help a few people who are in bed with the Government.

“All the television shows and everything being broadcast now we would have to pay for it. There is a particular group that is in bed with them [Government] to work on this because they will then hug the entire cable environment and charge people large sums of monies because everything else like free movies you will not be able to see.”

Jagdeo said President David Granger must not only put forward these promises but he must also explain what it means for the people of Guyana.

With some locals are calling for copyright legislation, Jagdeo said the PPP was working on a model that only seeks to protect local content and locally produced material.

“It may sound a bit pedantic and not totally free trade oriented but where we protect locally produced material. I don’t see any compelling need because in many parts of the world people don’t protect our people and our material,” he added.

Jagdeo said the Government could adopt this same model to protect local persons and their material and wait until Guyana as a developing country reaches the stage where it can extend protection to international material.

The Parliamentarian argued that his reasoning may not sound like the most enlightening position but he highlighted the situation where many of the international treaties don’t protect small countries like Guyana.

“We now are pushed to protect other people’s copyright and they don’t protect ours in other parts of the world… we don’t need to be the copyright police for the globe.”

Jagdeo said he is aware that he will be hammered for his position on this issue but said the PPP will not be the one to take away poor people’s access to rent pirated DVDs and music CDs.

Guyana currently has outdated copyright legislation, which is the United Kingdom Copyright Act of 1956. With the Government recently announcing that it was ready to move ahead and overhaul the outdated law persons have expressed fears for the way Guyanese have engaged in business.

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