Legal Issues in Local Entertainment The second staging of the International Reggae Conference was put on by the Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of the West Indies from February 17-20, 2010. MF&G hosted a panel discussion in which we explored with our audience the relevant laws which impact the way in which Jamaican music industry practitioners organize their business activities. We were represented by members of the Entertainment Law Practice Group, namely: Peter Goldson, Andrea Scarlett-Lozer, Simone Bowie and Grace Lindo. The panel examined three relevant areas of law: (i) Entertainment Contracts, (ii) Incentive granting legislation and the Noise Abatement Act, and (iii) Corporate Structures. The Reggae and Dancehall music industry in Jamaica is slowly becoming more formal in terms of contracting, business registrations and enforcement of regulations. The trend is likely to continue as more local artistes, event promoters and other industry players seek to compete with international entertainers. Entertainment Contracts Preparing a piece of music for publication does not usually get done by just one person, and this gives rise to business and legal questions as to what the rights of the various contributors are. The rights of each contributor oftentimes influence his/her entitlement to be paid, how much and at what stage. It is important that the parties negotiate their rights as early as possible. Artistes and other entertainment industry practitioners would usually require contracts for the following transactions and business relationships: (i) Management Agreement between manager and artiste; (ii) Music Production and Recording Agreement between artiste and producer; (iii) Agency Agreement between artiste/manager and agent; (iv) Merchandising Agreement between artiste and merchandiser; (v) Appearance Agreement between artiste/manager and event promoter; (vi) Synchronisation Agreement between artiste and film maker; and (vii) Agreement with artiste who wishes to do a collaboration. The underlying feature of entertainment contracts is the intellectual property or copyright of the artiste. A properly drafted contract should reflect the parameters within which the other contracting party may use or otherwise deal with the artiste’s work. Incentive Granting Legislation and the Noise Abatement Act The Motion Picture Industry (Encouragement) Act grants to motion picture producers in Jamaica various tax incentives. These incentives, usually granted by the government for 15 years or more, include relief from customs duty, general consumption tax, stamp duty and income tax allowances. The Entertainment Industry (Encouragement) Bill, 2005 is being promoted to allow similar incentives as those currently allowed to the motion picture industry to be granted to the entertainment industry generally. The Noise Abatement Act is the main piece of legislation which regulates noise. The Act provides that sound that is audible from a distance of 100 metres or more between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday and the hours of 12 midnight and 6:00 a.m. on a weekday is an annoyance which may cause those responsible to be criminally liable. Entertainment events in Jamaica are affected by this piece of legislation and there is an ongoing debate about where to strike the balance between entertainment of “party-goers” and residents. Corporate Structuring for the Entertainment Industry A business in Jamaica may be operated as a sole trader, partnership or company. Sole traders and partner- ships do not have a corporate personality which is distinct from that of their owners. Consequently, sole traders and partners are exposed to all the liabilities of the business and their personal assets may be called upon by a creditor of the business. On the other hand, a company has a separate corporate personality and is for all legal intents and purposes a different person from its shareholders. We usually recommend that the corporate structure most appropriate for the owner’s business model be chosen. For many entertainment businesses, this is usually a limited liability company. MF&G was pleased to participate in the International Reggae Conference and believes that the discussion of legal issues with industry practitioners and academics augurs well for the development of Reggae music as a significant contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Andrea Scarlett-Lozer is an Associate at Myers Fletcher & Gordon and a member of the Firm’s Commercial and Intellectual Property Departments and Entertainment Law Practice Group. Andrea may be contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.myersflethcer.com.