ECCO reminds residents about end of amnesty period, urges them to comply

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By Latrishka Thomas

The Eastern Caribbean Collective Organisation (ECCO) has announced the official end of the six-month relief, from paying royalties, offered to music users in Antigua and Barbuda.

In late June 2019, the copyright music organisation wrote to Festivals Minister Daryll Matthew offering an amnesty on collection of music royalties “in the interest of goodwill, equitability and the music industry at large”.

Now ECCO is reminding residents of the twin island that the July-December 2019 royalty amnesty for music users in Antigua and Barbuda has come to an end and “the resumption of Licensing by ECCO’s Agent for the use of copyright commenced as of January 1st, 2020”.

ECCO is therefore “encouraging music users (businesses, promoters, broadcasters, etc) to obtain the necessary copyright clearance for the commercial use of copyright music.”

ECCO further explained that “the amnesty was granted to provide music users with the opportunity to prepare for the royalty payments in the coming year as most, especially promoters, indicated that royalty payments were not factored into their budget.

“It is important to note that ECCO does not only protect its membership, but also the music users. ECCO protects music users by providing the licence for the use of copyright music safe guarding them from infringing on the copyright of the owners and possible legal action for such infringement by the rights holders,” it added.

ECCO also thanked its many licensees “who respect the rights of our members it is our hope for 2020 to see more support and compliance from music users across the region”.

ECCO is a copyright management organisation with the responsibility for administering the rights of authors, composers and publishers for the use of their music which has been registered in Antigua since 2009.

Members of ECCO or similar organisations have transferred their rights which gives these institutions the right to act on behalf of the music owner. That means that all music users must pay a tariff for the use of another’s music; a fee that will be collected by local ECCO agent Bernard DeNully.

In June, three representatives from the ECCO visited Antigua to hold two meetings — one for event promoters and one for music users — with the aim of sensitising residents on the tenets of the organisation.

It was there that ECCO was provided with a thorough list of concerns and fixes for residents who were perturbed by the fact that ECCO sought to enforce the tariff after they would have already budgeted for the fete season-ECCO eventually yielded to those concerns.

Present at those meetings were ECCO CEO Davis Joseph, Chairman of the ECCO Board of Directors Vernalderine Francis and Operations Manager of ECCO Vanesta Mortley.

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