Guyana, as well as the wider Caribbean, has long had problems with pirated or bootlegged music, software, and movies; I know its a worldwide problem, but I can only speak to a localized perspective.
I like to think that its lessened in recent years, with the advent of streaming and subscription services, etc., although I suspect I’m wrong. Dave Martins, leader of the famed Tradewinds band, wrote a song called Copycats, and although it dealt more with the West Indian habit of adopting foreign habits, accents and mannerisms, it nevertheless pointed out our habit of copying. Dave himself is very disillusioned since copies of Tradewinds music can be found all over, and this, of course, means little income to him in terms of sales and royalties.
In Guyana, the idea of robust Intellectual Property (IP) legislation has been floated, toyed with, promised, and neglected by several administrations, and this not only lends to the piracy but somewhat emboldens it. Without IP legislation it is extremely difficult to enforce copyright, and the government knows this, and the artists feel it, every day.
Despite a good and productive music sector, a dynamic visual arts sector, and a growing performance arts sector, IP Legislation seems but a spectre on the horizon, as seen at midnight, in a mist shrouded rainforest. As photographers we see a regular “appropriation” of our images in the local media, some photographers are lucky enough to get back from those agencies who did so, but others do not. I’ve been asked many times, and have often allowed the use of an image for no monetary recompense, but with attribution, I’ve sometimes gotten a small fee, its that kind of world.
As time has gone by, many agencies seek out the photographers, and ask permission, and offer to license the image, a positive sign in a dismal marketplace. One instance that still rankles with me is when one of my images was used for a local publication, and when the publisher was approached, I was told that it was not my image, and that I had nothing to get; I was eventually urged by a lawyer to not pursue it, as it was unlikely to net me anything in the long run.
In the meantime, we can still stop and get the newest or oldest, favourite songs and movies from an assortment of vendors; and in my favour, this particular one made for a decent street photo.
Keep Shooting folks! Click the image to see it in the Gallery along with other Street Photography Images.