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World Book and Copyright Day celebrated today, events in Belize moved online due to social distancing

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Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2020. 7:31 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Today, countries around the world are paying homage to the impact that books have on society by observing the 25th annual World Book and Copyright Day.

The event is organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and used to promote reading, publishing, and copyright.

The Belize Book Industry Association (BBIA) has marked the occasion with a week-long initiative called Book Week since 2009, which includes a mobile book fair that is held in various districts each year. Due to the social distancing requirements in the national COVID-19 response, the BBIA has reworked its 2020 calendar of events to feature a series of videos featuring Belizean authors and poets speaking on various topics concerning reading, writing and publishing, or doing spoken word poetry.

The videos are available on the BBIA’s Facebook page and on the Belize National Library’s Instagram page.

Felene Cayetano, president of the BBIA, notes literary work coming out of Belize goes as far back as the 1800’s but that the non-Colonial Belizean voice did not really come into its own until around the past 60 years.

“So that Belizean voice has been strong within Belize but it has not really launched beyond Belize except for festivals, the occasional inclusion in regional anthologies but… we have not had that international exposure. At the same time we are reading a lot of content from everywhere, Caribbean CXC type of content, American popular literature, what we are watching on T.V., everything that we are consuming is mostly non-Belizean,” Cayetano said.

She added that the 2020 celebration of World Book and Copyright Day comes at a time when the association is looking seriously at measures it can take to support Belizean authors in making their literary mark on the world stage.

On the copyright side the Belize Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO) reminded Belizeans that the country is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, and has a Copyright Act (Chapter 252 of the Laws of Belize), which addresses the protection of creative works. BELIPO also noted that copyrighting of creative works is automatic whenever an artist produces a tangible manifestation of their creative idea but that some creators still deposit a copy of their work at the BELIPO office and register it for peace of mind (though the practice is not a necessity).

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