Copyright changes on the way

The days of $5 bootleg DVDs of the latest “Game of Thrones” episode or new movie release may soon be gone. New copyright laws will come into effect later this year, modernizing Cayman’s 1956 law and bringing it in line with Europe and the United Kingdom.

The U.K. Privy Council extended provisions of British law to Cayman last month. Provisions of the U.K.’s 1988 Copyright Act will replace the 1956 law in the fall, with a date still to be determined. But local artists and attorneys say it will be a major adjustment for Cayman to understand and follow copyright law.

Sophie Davis, an intellectual property attorney with HSM IP in Cayman, said in a recent interview that copyright is ignored in Cayman for the most part. “People don’t understand [copyright law] or think it’s not really that important,” she said.

She said the law firm is marking World Intellectual Property Day this weekend by meeting with local musicians and artists to discuss copyright protections and how to protect their brands with trademarks. The theme for this year’s IP Day is “Get up, stand up. For music,” to highlight the ongoing issues with pirated music and copyright issues around music downloading and streaming. The title is a reference to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Burnin’,” though it is not a copyright violation.

Josh Pearl and Stephan Cotterell, musicians who recently started local clothing line YNC with Mr. Cotterell’s brother, agree with Ms. Davis’s assessment. Mr. Pearl said he made a film recently and a friend found a copy in a bootleg DVD store. He sells digital access on his website but also has it available on YouTube for free.

“I wasn’t educated on this at all,” Mr. Pearl said. He wasn’t concerned about a DVD store with a bootleg copy for sale, but said he only recently learned what copyright law says and what his options are if someone makes illegal copies of his work.

“It’s been a free-for-all,” Mr. Cotterell said. “You just get away with it.”

Ms. Davis said intellectual property protections like trademark and copyright are important in a global economy to “make sure a country is taken seriously.”

The new copyright law deals with such issues as digital music and movies that were not even in Cayman imaginations in 1956. It also gives additional protections to copyright holders in other countries.

Ministry of Commerce representatives have said they plan to conduct a public education campaign, and give places like bootleg DVD stores enough notice so that no one is surprised when the new rules take effect.