Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 1st 2015 Contents SBG4 NEWS
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 1 • 2015
From Berkeley to Bailey and
Minshall to MacFarlane, the
mas designer has always
had pride of place in T&T s
The bandleader is a wearer of many hats:
leader of the band; organiser; accountant; man-
ufacturer and business manager. As these func-
tions have become increasingly specialised, the
man who brings out a band, is not necessarily
the designer of the costumes.
Mas today, is filled with guest designers and
special sections. Almost gone are the days of
the bandleader who stands in the shade of the
truck, while his designs float across the Savan-
Carla Parris, the entertainment lawyer who
spoke with Sunday BG last week on Carnival
fetes, outlined a scenario to demonstrate the
grey areas now created by the relatively new
bandleader/mas designer divide.
"Let us look at a situation where an overseas
company---a fashion house, for example---
becomes interested in a particular Carnival
costume design. They want to feature this cos-
tume in a fashion show. Who do they approach
for ownership or for licensing of this costume,
or who do they seek permission from to use
it ?"No credible overseas entity is going to be
interested in buying into a liability or buying
into a situation where they decide to feature
a costume in an event and a third party comes
forward in T&T, with a cease and desist order
saying the design belongs to them and they
ought to be paid licensing fees. This is why it
is important to clarify from the outset."
Like the origin of fetes spoken of last week,
most bandleaders and mas designers have
informal, usually oral agreements on the use
of the design and compensation for such but,
in the event of a dispute, who will hold sway?
Parris said that Carnival costumes are pro-
tected by copyright laws.
"Copyright, is a property right, which subsists
in literary and artistic works. Under Section 5
of the Copyright Act, it is clear that the costume
can be categorised as a work either worthy of
protection as a work of drawing or work of
applied art. The act goes further to state that
the original owner of the copyright is the
author, who has created the work. If you were
to look at the concept and the notion of an
author, the person who would have created
the Carnival costume would be the designer."
Parris said bandleaders and mas designers
should sit down and formalise discussions
about who owns the costumes and, therefore,
who has the right to be compensated for their
use. Whatever consensus arising out of the
discussions should take the form of a written
agreement. Parris said usually, the designer
and band leader have two options.
"Is the designer assigning full ownership of
the design to the band, which would mean
they are agreeing to a buyout of the design,
so it is now owned by the mas band in full?
Or is the designer simply licensing the design
to the band, which would be specific to the
band? A license is not in perpetuity. The design-
er could say to the bandleader: I am licensing
this design to you for the period of Carnival
2015, from x month to x month, or for a period
of a year, or for a period of years."
Parris said the disagreements arising out of
the lack of clarity on licensing and ownership
of design has caused mas designers, bandleaders
and, ultimately, the country to lose revenue.
But licensing fees are not the only way Car-
nival costumes can make those with ownership
For decades, Trinidad Carnival has been the
subject of documentaries that have featured
masqueraders in their costumes.
"This happens every year. Every year we see
international production companies come from
all over the world. You see them on the road,
you see them in the mas camp, you see them
in all different aspects of Carnival events. But
the question is: are any royalties from these
films, documentaries, shorts and series flowing
back to T&T?
"Royalty generation is a source of income.
How are we ensuring that these royalties come
Parris said Trinbagonian cultural authorities
should no longer be fooled by the pitch that
film producers---foreign or local---were "expos-
ing our Carnival to the world" and therefore
should not be expected to pay for the right to
"We need to have proper written production
agreements in place, when companies come
to feature us in the films, which would cater
to the different types of material that is being
featured in the film."
These include the music, the actors and
ancillary services connected with such an effort.
Parris said the proper production agreements
ensure that locals involved in productions, par-
ticularly those connected with foreign entities,
are paid what they are worth.
Sychronisation deals with local collection
societies allow them to compensate artistes
when their music is used in productions. Only
one person, in fact, seems to be on the out
when coming to compensation and that is the
masquerader, she said.
Parris noted that while bandleaders and mas
designers stood to gain from Carnival costumes,
the masquerader didn t, at least not by just
wearing them. She said while provisions were
made in the US and, to some extent, the UK
for compensation of individuals whose images
are used in publications, there were no such
provision in T&T.
"In the United States, the notion of image
rights is well established. There, the right of
publicity has become enshrined in law to protect
the economic interests that one might have in
his or her own image. In the United Kingdom,
only celebrities or public figures can seek redress
for the unauthorised commercial exploitation
of one s image and the average citizen may
seek redress by invoking human rights legis-
"In T&T, like most Commonwealth juris-
dictions, there is no statute enacted with respect
to the average citizen and image rights. There-
fore such an individual would not be auto-
matically entitled to claim compensation for
the use of one s image. This right is limited to
celebrities and public figures through other
areas of law."
Parris said the gap in legislation presents an
excellent opportunity for discussions to begin
on masqueraders and the rights to their image
and ways this can be capitalised on to benefit
Next week entertainment lawyer, Carla
Parris and the Sunday BG explore the rights
of photographers/videographers capturing
images of Carnival festivities.
Who owns Carnival costumes?
Links Archive January 31st 2015 February 2nd 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page