Recent news that dancehall artiste Flourgon and his legal team have reached a settlement in their US$300-million lawsuit against international pop star Miley Cyrus has understandably stirred applause and congratulations throughout the dancehall and reggae music community. From the fans’ perspective, dancehall music has prevailed. But to add caution to the moment, celebrants should heed the fact that the details of the settlement have not been made public, perhaps because the real prize is not a big fat pay cheque. From chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, entertainment lawyer Ewan Simpson’s perspective, the settlement between Flourgon and Cyrus (Sony Music Entertainment) makes the point that copyright is alive and well.
“Globally, there is no formal process of registration that is necessary for lyrics, even for copyright protection in general. If you have published the work and you’re credited as the writer of the work, it stands in the public space as being credited to you as the writer.
“Somebody would have to come and displace that,” Simpson told The Gleaner.
In 2018, Stephen Drummond and JoAnn Squillace of the law firm Drummond and Squillace were accompanied by Willie E. Gary, Loreal McDonald, and Larry Strauss of Gary, Williams, Parenti Watson & Gary, and Carol Green von Kaul, to a Gleaner Editors’ Forum, where they presented an argument that Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop ( “we run things, things don’t run we”) displaced, or misappropriated Flourgon’s lyrics ( “we run things, things no run we”) – which they claim he ‘coined’ as early as age 16. He is now 54.
During the forum, Squillace explained: “You can steal the actual lyrics, which is what we’re claiming here. You can steal melody, and you can actually steal the instrumental musical notes.”
If used with permission, the process is called sampling. “That is not what happened with the Flourgon case. [Miley Cyrus] used his lyrics,” Simpson said.
nnect with Jamcopy To avoid needing a forum of lawyers to defend intellectual property and copyright disputes, Simpson recommends connecting with JAMCOPY, the agency that protects literary works, including lyrics.
He shared: “It would be useful to talk to the Jamaica Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY) and do a registration of the lyrics there. If I have written some lyrics and give it to an artiste to make a song, legally, I am a co-author of the song. I would need to ensure that I am credited on the publishing of that song as co-author.
And if that song is sampled, or the lyrics are used or any part of the song is used, I have equal rights to the other writer.”
Another place is the National Library. “That would create an objective record that you did create these lyrics. That can stand if you need to bring an action sometime later.”
Meanwhile, reports are that Flourgon has been inundated with phone calls from people assuming they are now acquainted with a multimillionaire. “Even if we know what the total settlement figure is, we still don’t know what Flourgon is getting. The settlement could be anywhere between US$300 million to US$1. The details of the settlement have not been made public, and it’s not useful for us to speculate. I don’t think it helps the conversation in any way to try and speculate on what he is getting. What we know is that it was a suit for US$300 million, and that at the end of the day the suit was settled,” Simpson said. source : http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20200108/flourgon-settlement-win-copyright-jaria