Public Radio International aired this short audio piece on ska, the musical form that took off in the early 1960s, blending Jamaican jazz with American soul and rhythm and blues, and influenced numerous excellent bands, from The Clash and The Specials to No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
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Jamaica now has the third-longest copyright term in the world, and the term extension has been imposed retrospectively, all the way back to works created in 1962, the year ska burst on the public scene.
The new term only binds on Jamaicans, meaning that the currently public domain Jamaican works that are going back into copyright will be free for foreigners long before they're free for Jamaicans again, a situation that will apply to all Jamaican works produced from 1962 onward.
Jamaica has also committed to enforcing copyright on foreign works that had entered the public domain in Jamaica, meaning that Jamaicans will have to pay for imports they currently get for free.
If Jamaica hoped that this measure would bring in additional royalties for its musicians from overseas markets, then the tactic that it chose to pursue was doomed to failure from the outset. Foreign users of Jamaican copyrights are not bound by the extended copyright term; only Jamaicans are; but conversely, Jamaicans are now obliged to honor foreign copyrights for the full extended term.1 As opposition spokesperson on culture Olivia Grange put it during debate on the new law, “what will happen is that we will, in fact, be paying out to foreign copyright holders in foreign exchange for the continued use of foreign works in Jamaica, while our own rights holders will only benefit up to the 50, 70 or 80 years that exist in other countries”. So all that this measure has accomplished is that citizens of Jamaica, a developing country, will be paying more money into Hollywood's coffers, while Jamaica's own rich cultural heritage draws in not a penny more in return. Yay?
This measure is so stupid on its face that it is a wonder it passed through parliament at all. But what pains us even more is that it was deemed a trivial enough change to the law that it went unreported in the press until it was already a fait accompli. We could've spotted it earlier, and we're not proud of missing it. But it also came as an unwelcome shock to all the other activists with whom we work, including the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, whose members in Jamaica have suffered a sudden and severe setback to their mission to preserve and disseminate the early written records of newly-independent Jamaica.
Anatomy of a Copyright Coup: Jamaica's Public Domain Plundered
As usual with these things, it's really 16-bit style, but it's fantastic, so who cares? [YouTube]
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford declared yesterday to be "Bob Marley Day." It's hard to read the tea-leaves on this one: is it a wink-wink reach-out to the stoner vote from a mayor who admitted to smoking crack and who has been accused by his staff in sworn affidavits of both smoking weed at work and offering weed as a ransom in exchange for the return of his lost mobile phone? Is it a charm offensive aimed at Toronto's large Jamaican/West Indian population, many of whom were offended by the mayor's drunken impression of an angry, ranting patois-speaker? Is it a totally non-ironic celebration of a great musician and great political thinker (albeit one whose politics ran totally contrary to the mayor's own)?
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Click to view large. Photo: Jeff Simmermon.
Boing Boing pal Jeff Simmermon sends us some wonderful snapshots of a local Jamaican artist who lives and works in Treasure Beach, "a very sparsely populated rural beach town in Southern Jamaica," where Jeff and his bride are celebrating their honeymoon (congrats, you two!). I saw these photos on Facebook, and asked Jeff if he wouldn't mind sharing them with Boing Boing, too.
Jeff obliged, and says, "This guy's sign painting business is somewhere near Black River, but nowhere near anything at all. He's got a lot of bible verses and wise sayings, and a few pieces that are INTENSELY anatomical."
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Jamaica's new Prime Minister -- who won by a landslide -- has vowed to turn the island into a republic, eliminating the Queen as the head of state. This may seem pretty pro-forma, but in the past few years, Canada's royal representative, the Governor General, has allowed the Prime Minister to suspend parliament for highly politicized reasons, at one point leaving Canada without government in the midst of the financial crisis. The Commonwealth bargain is meant to be that the Queen's rep acts as a non-political, sober oversight of last resort. But in Canada, the GG let the Prime Minister shut down Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote and to shut down an embarrassing Parliamentary inquiry about Canada's complicity in the indefinite detention, torture and murder of Afghani war prisoners. Against this backdrop, it seems to me that getting rid of royal "governance" can only be a good thing.
"I love the Queen; she is a beautiful lady," Simpson Miller said, before declaring to the audience in Jamaican patois: "But I think time come."
Simpson Miller said she could replace the privy council in London with the Trinidad-based Caribbean court of justice as Jamaica's highest court of appeal. She said this would "end judicial surveillance from London."
She vowed her government would "ease the burdens and the pressues of increasing poverty, joblessness and deteriorating standards of living" while also pursuing a tight fiscal policy and forging strong partnerships with the private sector and international partners such as the International Monetary Fund.
Jamaica will become a republic, new prime minister vows