Copyright legislation changes…says Govt should protect local rather than international contentFollowing the announcement by Government of its intention to table copyright legislation, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed worry over the impact this could have on the local economy as many small businesses could possibly close as a result of the incoming change.He made these comments at his Church Street, Georgetown office on Thursday when he engaged the media at his weekly press conference.Guyanese artistes and writers have been lobbying for several years to protect their products from being copied and mass produced without their permission as many local producers cannot get royalties and earnings from their intellectual property. It was in a parliamentary address last week that President David Granger stated that legislation would be tabled to bring copyright laws on the books,However, some opposed to the change say it could put undue burdens on local producers of DVDs and CDs and that it would drastically impact on the free foreign movies and programmes currently broadcast on television.Protect local vs foreignJagdeo weighed in on the issue on Thursday, highlighting the economic impact this overhaul could have on local businesses.“I hope that people will understand … it will be a revolution in Guyana. I’m not going to say much more, because when Government passes that next year, every video store in this country will have to close that sells these bootlegs. And every store that sells music now … the way they currently do, it will have to shut those down too, as well as the guys who are doing the push cart, they can be charged too,” Jagdeo expressed.While acknowledging that some may be in disagreement with the position he posited, Jagdeo clarified that Government should place more emphasis on protecting local intellectual property rights rather than focusing on safeguarding international content.“In many parts, people don’t protect our paper, our material, so we [should] protect the copyrighted material for our local artistes, etc, and we have those enforced and removed from the shelves; and then wait until the appropriate time, because we are a poor developing country, wait until such time in the future that people can afford to pay,” the Opposition Leader suggested.The ruling A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration has been signalling that it would bring the legislation for consideration in the National Assembly, over the years it has been in office. It was only in April of this year that Government restated that it would be updating and enforcing the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation, which allows creators to safeguard their work through patents, trademarks and copyrights, resulting in prevention of plagiarism, with the relevant laws as artillery should the need arise.There are currently small fines for copyright infringements under old laws. In fact, Guyana’s Trademark Act and Patents and Design Act were tabled in 1973, while the Copyright Act is dated 1956, decades before interconnectivity and digitisation became basic in the lives of many Guyanese in coastal and some hinterland areas. In contrast, in Guyana’s regional neighbour Barbados, the court could award up to US$250,000 for copyright infringement.