Slow beat - Music industry lags in donations to the National Library of Jamaica

Sunday, March 25, 2012    

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THE Jamaican music industry is lagging in legal deposits to the downtown Kingston-based National Library of Jamaica (NLJ).

According data from the NLJ, between April 2009 and February this year, the music industry contributed a total of 243 CDs to the institution while total deposits from the book industry stand at 1,100. DVD deposits number 65.

Valerie Francis, acquisitions librarian, said the contribution to the institution from the music industry does not represent the scope of this group. She, however, feels the problem may be how persons perceive libraries and some amount of distrust.

"For many in the music industry, a library is predominantly a collection of books. Therefore, calls for persons to make donations of audio-visual material is viewed with suspicion," she told the Observer.

"We are constantly asked by persons if the material will be pirated or if the deposits are for tax purposes. That feeds into the reluctance," she continued.

Guided by the Legal Deposit Act of 2002, which came into operation in 2004, the National Library of Jamaica accepts voluntary deposits of locally created intellectual work for posterity.

The acquisitions librarian explained it is an obligation, backed by the law, requiring two copies of a printed document, and one copy of an audio-visual item, be deposited as a record of the nation's published heritage and development.

She said the research value of these deposits is tremendous.

"One can get information from music in the same way that persons can gather information from books. CDs also carry liner notes which tell of the year it was published, musicians, producer, and studio at which it was recorded. This is vital information as we move to document the history of Jamaican music," Francis said.

She emphasised that a legal deposit is not copyright, but greatly supports the protection of intellectual property.

She cited a case in which a local musician had released a single and made a deposit to the library. Ten years later, he was in court contesting a copyright breach.

"He was able to draw on his deposit with us 10 years earlier, as he did not have a copy of the single for himself. It was this valuable information that helped him in winning his case," she said.

Francis said the NLJ is trying to get the message out to the music industry but it has been difficult. Despite a verbal willingness to participate, it does not translate into actual deposits.

"We need to get it across that the deposits are not for entertainment purposes, but rather for research purposes," she said.

Despite the slow response, Francis is heartened by the actions of a few, whom she described as "Friends of the National Library".

Among them are producer Gussie Clarke of Anchor Studio, reggae artiste Tony Rebel, The Marley family, as well as groups such as the Jamaica Music Society, The Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office.




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