Local musicians can sue drayangs and discos

Despite efforts made by the Intellectual Property Division (IPD) to create awareness on the Intellectual Property (IP) Rights, Bhutanese artists, mainly musicians, are least interested in exercising their rights.

On February 1, the IPD office encouraged interested parties to apply for the voluntary deposit and registration of their copyrights with the Intellectual Property Division to provide right holders   a simple and effective means of establishing prima facie proof of authorship and ownership of their work but this elicited little response.

To this end, one of the initiatives taken by the IPD is the ‘Collective Management Organization’(CMO). A CMO is an organization that will be pioneered by the private sector wherein authors/creators/producers and like-minded people form an organization that will collectively promote and protect copyrights. This organization will guide the users to effectively monitor and promote the members’ interests. It allows the creative sector such as singers, musicians, lyricists and artists to unite and set rules and regulations on their own. The right holders’ concerted implementation of such rules shall benefit the collective organization in terms of income apart from protecting copyrights which will be subject to auditing by the IPD office. However, even here, there has been zero response from the public and private sector.

“Until now there is no CMO, but we are beginning to see the need as well as interest from the private sector in forming one”, said Kencho Palden, an IP officer.

Meanwhile, radio stations and entertainment houses continue to use a lot of songs composed by an artist indiscriminately. The artists are least bothered to intervene and question such practices. “It is not legal, but our law enforcing agencies cannot intervene nor take actions unless we receive any complaints from the right holders”, said Kencho Palden.

But Nguldrup Dorjikss of Jigdrel Entertainment is skeptical of anything to do with IP in Bhutan.

“It’s is a waste of quality time, capital and office stationery,” he said adding that the copyrights of three reality TV shows which he introduced in the country were not protected by  the IPD office. “It’s better to steal someone else’s idea,” he  concluded.

Statistics show that there are currently more than 10,000 trademarks registered with the IPD. Three new designs have been registered out of which two are under examination. There are no patents as yet because patent registry is still not launched, explaining the lack of registration facilities.

Bhutan is still drafting the National Intellectual Property policy. According to Kencho Palden, there is a need to first set up an IP framework that is in tune with social, economic and cultural context.

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