Carnival's Axis of copyright

I’ve been advised, by a source with no reason to lie about such things, that some quite draconian fees have been instituted for the coverage of Carnival in 2013.

These fees break out as follows in T&T cash money as the unsuited thugs say…
NCC Fees: Personal use -
$600.00, Commercial use - $800.00
Additional National Carnival Bandleader’s Association (NCBA) fees for coverage of costumed bands and individuals: personal use -
$5,900.00, commercial use - $10,000.00 (permits two years of local usage). For international commercial usage for U.K. and Europe add $3,500.00. for international commercial usage for the US, add $3,000.00.

It’s unclear what rights “commercial usage” covers. That’s very specific terminology in photographic licensing and these terms would, if the NCBA understands what they are talking about here, allow a photographer to cover Carnival and sell it to, say, Prada for an advertising campaign in the US and Europe.
If that’s the case, $16,500 is a steal of a deal.

I suspect, however, that this isn’t what this Axis of Copyright has in mind.The NCC/NCBA/TUCO/Pan Trinbago coalition of shortsightedness has tended to see “commercial usage” as magazines offered for sale and prints sold in a photographic outlet, neither of which is particularly commercial or profitable and those fees applied to magazines could stand some testing in court.

The absurdity of charging for the documentation of a national festival isn’t something that photographers have been railing out only recently.
In this interview with Noel Norton, he laments the fees charged more than 20 years ago which he paid every year in order to continue his work recording the national festival.

I witnessed begging expeditions by these same Carnival stakeholders to Norton’s studio to get access to images for one project or another, requests that the normally stern Mary Norton would always try to accommodate. Both of the Nortons photographed Carnival because they really loved this country and wanted to do their part to participate in its development.

In 2005, when they really began to struggle with the yearly trek to the Savannah, I wrote
this letter to the NCC. A good friend of mine was present when it was read to the leadership of the NCC and it earned a single response: “What did Noel Norton ever do for Carnival?”

Not a single person spoke up for his years of service and the access they had offered to their archives. If anyone has ever wondered why I have been so biliously venal in my contempt for the NCC and everything it stands for, this is one outstanding reason why.

Now Carnival's Axis of copyright seems to want to limit or at the very least, severely tax the recording of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. This is such a stunningly myopic notion that I cannot speak to it at all, instead
I’ll just let Andrea De Silva explain why.

I’m very tempted to walk away from this
mountain of crap. But here’s the truth. Carnival is bigger and more important than the stupidity of the people who are appointed to run it. There will come a day when we look back on these decisions and lament the chilling effect they had on serious coverage and documentation, but that won’t bring those lost events and personalities back.

Hundreds of hours of Carnival coverage have been either lost or are steadily deteriorating in what remains of TTT’s video archives. This year’s Panorama Semi-Finals went unrecorded while negotiations over rights dithered on. The Norton Archive of Carnival, captured through love and preserved with dedication, remains our most complete record of the last fifty years of Carnival and it is now, justifiably, the inheritance of Mary and Noel’s family.

Instead of acknowledging that there is a small but important tradition of documenting Carnival in this country and finding ways to seek mutual reward in the recording for posterity and future leverage of our country’s creative patrimony, the Axis of copyright has chosen taxation as its only tactic of negotiation and discussion.

Pay us or go away, they say to us. They don’t see what commercialising Carnival coverage has done to this country’s understanding of the festival. How decades of jam and wine photos have redefined the event using its most common and vulgar visual language.

Art doesn’t sell like hotcakes, but hotties do, so instead of a Carnival of creativity, documented and analysed, we get page after page of abs and boobs draped in feathers and spattered with glitter.
If Carnival is a golden goose, being paraded for the pleasure of the punters, this Axis of copyright is four fat fingers that are pressing steadily into its throat.
This year, they’re squeezing in for the big choke-off, I think.

CarnivalTV, 2013
Copyright and Cacada
Dear Allison
Tradition and Commerce
The Images of Carnival (Video)
Morning Edition on Carnival copyright (Video)
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