In light of allegations that businessman, Khimo Astaphan, has breached copyright laws in a video posted on social media, attorney at law and song writer/singer and member of Look-Us Band, Ronald Charles, is appealing to Dominicans to refrain from using copyrighted material without proper permission.
Charles’ remarks come amidst a controversy over a song, ‘Dominica Overcome’, written by him and performed by Jerd Dorsette of Look-Us Band, that was used by Astaphan, CEO of Platinum Security, in a video depicting his company’s rescue mission of evacuees of Petite Savanne.
Charles claimed that no prior permission was sought nor was credit given to the Look-Us Band in the video and to make matters worse, the song has not been officially released on CD and a video is still in production.
“We are encouraging persons… if somebody has the video up or doing anything in that reproduction as long as the song has not been assigned to you or you have not been given permission it is not fair to go ahead and do it,” he said on Q95 FM radio on Thursday.
The video with the song, which was uploaded to YouTube, showed a number of missions organized by Platinum Security to Petite Savanne. It became a huge hit as many saw it depicting the struggles that Tropical Storm Erika brought to the people of Dominica and the determination to rise above the adversity. It was eventually removed from YouTube.
Charles said although it may have been done for a good cause “at the end of the day there are no credits given to the band, nothing is being given back.”
“So we are saying to people to refrain for it. But in terms of moving forward we definitely would tell anybody who has intentions to use the song please call me so that I can look into what you want to do, we can discuss it,” he said.
He said it is public knowledge that proceeds of the song will to go to children who were affected by the storm and the band allowed radio stations to play it to bring comfort to those who need it.
“Ultimately, when all the dust is settled within a month or two and then you would say to Ronald Charles, where is the contribution that you say you would give the children…? And I cannot account, what you think people going to say?” Charles noted.
But Astaphan said that Charles had sent the song to him and it was his understanding that it could be used and despite pleading with Charles, he insisted that the video be pulled down.
“I have to say sorry that I had to pull down the original video because the song writer and myself could not have come to an amicable decision as it relates to the usage of the song,” he said in the video uploaded to YouTube. “I was sadly mistaken and we were asked to remove the song as there were some rights issue.”
He stated that in their many discussions about the song he pleaded with Charles to reconsider adding that “I don’t know what he wants” but “it is bad taste that we have lost lives and we are suffering as a nation and we are looking at how we can benefit from the use of songs.”
He was quick, however, to point out that everyone has a legal right and ownership over their material and it was not his intention to create any misunderstanding, “however I honestly feel like a time like this, he could overlook it.”
The businessman said he contacted Michelle Henderson to create a song for the video and “within seconds” she agreed.
Astaphan noted that it “unfortunate” that the song had to be pulled down and “now is not the time to see how you can benefit man, it’s just how you can give.”
But Charles pointed out that he and Astaphan had a very long conversation over WhatsApp over three to four days, “trying to bring to his understanding that at the end of the day if we can meet and talk about what we have put out there and in any event it would be advisable that he pull it down until we meet, talk, discuss and move forward.”
He said Astaphan was “a bit hesitant to do so” but they finally met.
“He was asked to make a contribution and Mr. Astaphan’s contribution was maybe to ridicule the whole situation,” Charles said.
Charles admitted, however, that if the video had given some kind of credit to the band, “maybe I could look at that, that is why I wanted to meet with him, that I what I wanted to do…”