Friday, September 19, 2008

Dancers to copyright moves

Disputes over the creation of dance moves have become a common occurrence in the dancehall.
It is undeniable that dancing and dancers have become just as popular as the dancehall songs and artistes. Two years ago the, Dutty Wine exploded around the world, putting a focus on the island's dancing and dancers.

Everyone seemed to be doing the dance - on Youtube, at stage shows and in music videos for American pop artistes.

During the recent Beijing Olympics, triple world-record holder Usain Bolt introduced to the world the Nuh Linga, the Nineties Rock and the Gully Creepa - again bringing Jamaican dance moves to the world stage.

Yet, while artistes and the music industry have begun to pay attention to royalty and licensing rights, the dancing arena has remained behind.

In a recent article published in The STAR, creator of the Gully Creepa, David Smith, more popularly known as Ice, told THE STAR that he had not received what was fairly due to him for his creation of the dance, even while Elephant Man has profited from the massive hit song.

As with the Gully Creepa, the Dutty Wine was another dance that caused a dispute.
The Attitude Girls from Montego Bay claimed to be the creators of the hugely popular dance, while Kingston's Mad Michelle also claimed rights to the head twirling move. The Dutty Wine was even featured in Beyoncé's music video Ring The Alarm.

When THE STAR made checks, it was discovered that according to copyright laws, dancers can protect and gain money from creating dance moves. Copyrighting covers areas such as literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works, architectural designs, maps, technical drawings, photographs, computer programmes, choreography and advertisements.

It is the right of the owner of the intellectual property to copyright his or her creation.
The copyrighted owner of a dance would have an exclusive right to exploit his or her creative work and has the authority to prevent others from using the work without his or her permission.

Anika Radcliffe of the Intellectual Property Services Centre explained to THE STAR that forms were made available at its offices for dancers to copyright their moves. The dancer would be required to pay a small fee, complete the forms and give either a detailed step-by-step description of the dance or provide a CD of the dance. After this is done, the dancer would then receive a licence showing that he/she is the owner of the dance and the name of the dance.
However, Radcliffe claims she could only recall one dancer coming to the office to licence a dance.
She said that dancer did not complete the process, however.

When THE STAR contacted the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), it explained that there is an even simpler way for a dancer to claim intellectual property rights which does not involve paying any money.

According to the representative from the JIPO, a dancer can use the 'poor man's copyrights' where he/she simply writes a letter containing a full description of the dance, or tapethe dance, declare themselves as the creator of the dance and date the letter. The letter would then be sent back to them through registered mail, and they would keep it unopened.

According to the JIPO, when copyrights are done as the dancers are considered the 'authors' of the dance. If someone, locally or Internationally, decided to use the dance for profit, they could be sued if the dance is protected through copyrighting.

However, JIPO pointed out that there were few cases of dancers claiming their rights locally, but there are many cases of dancers on the International scene doing so.

The JIPO representative said, "I think its important, that's how you profit from your work. You can sell the use of your work."

However, creators of the most popular local moves were not practising copyrighting of their dances.

Taz, from Timeless Dancers, who created the popular 'To di Worl' slang and dance, the 'Powercut' dance and others, said that he has been thinking about copyrighting.

"When mi did deh in New York recently mi did a talk bout it ... but it nah really mek no sense, yuh just haffi kno seh a yuh create di dance. When mi did just start dance, mi did investigate it but nobaddy neva gimme a good feedback," Taz said.

According to Taz, some of his dances have been used in major videos. He says the Powercut was featured in Elephant Man and Wyclef's Five O video.

Taz says he does not make money from the dances themselves but has to work hard to get the Timeless name popular so that the dancers will be booked for shows. "Di artistes dem have it easier, but we haffi go out every night and dance," he said.

Overmars, from the Ravers Clavers crew, who created dances like the Nuh Linga, Raging Bull, and Paper Bag says he is also thinking of utilising copyright laws, especially after the worldwide popularity of the Nuh Linga following the Olympics.

"I haven't copyrighted my dances, but I was going to when I check it out to copyright ... People would have to ask permission and di people dem put my dance out there. At the same time, people tekking di dance and doing it and we not getting nothing," Overmars said.

Source: Jamaica Star

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