Kern “Trinidad Killa” Joseph has issued a legal letter to Point Fortin Mayor Kennedy Richards Jr claiming copyright infringement after his song was played during Richards’s general election campaign.
Joseph said an injunction would be sought before the High Court, should the claimed infringement continue.
A pre-action protocol letter yesterday to Richards, from attorney Tamara Gregorio, stated Joseph is the legal owner of the song “Power in Soca (Dyy Zess)”, which is registered and licensed with the Copyright Music Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT).
It was stated that Joseph recorded an adaptation of the song and, on June 20, offered this for sale to a representative of the People’s National Movement (PNM) for the Point Fortin candidate.
The following day, it was said, Joseph received several videos showing the adaptation being used during a PNM Point Fortin campaign.
He went to the PNM Point Fortin office, where he enquired from a representative the reason for the song being played during the campaign without his authorisation or permission.
The letter said Joseph later that day informed Richards of the videos, and asked whether he and one of the representatives were interested in acquiring a licence to use his reproduction during the general election campaign.
Joseph said he was told the matter would be investigated, and that he should return to the office the following day.
Joseph, the letter stated, did so twice that day, but instead met Richards during his campaign where he again enquired about the song and said it was being played, to his (Joseph’s) detriment.
Joseph was asked for additional time to investigate the matter, and it was the same response during a phone conversation a week later, it was stated in the letter.
Gregorio stated use of the adaptation of the song was contrary to the Copyright Act.
She said in the letter, “Therefore we call upon you to immediately stop infringing my client’s copyrights.
“Please note that if you fail to comply, I am in receipt of my client’s instructions to commence High Court proceedings to obtain an injunction against you to immediately prevent, prohibit and block you from using my client’s reproduction/adaptation.”
She also advised Joseph of damages or profit from the claimed breach.
It was said the letter was an attempt to amicably settle the matter to avoid litigation or use of court resources, but that should there be no response, legal proceedings would be initiated.
In a statement, Joseph said, “I offered two different songs to both major political parties for consideration of purchase by either.
“I was disappointed to learn that the People’s National Movement’s candidate for Point Fortin breached all legal protocol by playing what was essentially a demo, done without completing an agreement for compensation.
“I did not authorise the party via contract to play my song and they are infringing on my copyright.”
He added, “I think it is unfair and unethical that my work is being used by the political party without my consent and, further to that, without an agreement of payment facilitation for my creative adaptation.”