By Aaron Humes: The Belizean Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (BSCAP) has found preliminarily that Guatemalan artiste Kimberly Flores’ rendition of “Din Din Walla Walla” is based on work in the public domain.
In a statement, BSCAP says there is a pre-existing version of the song (released by Compton Fairweather’s CES Records for the band The Web in 1975) before it was popularized by Leela Vernon, and in any event, it is a traditional Kriol song, which places it in the public domain.
This means there is no exclusive right to the intellectual property of the song by any artist including Vernon; no permission thus needs to be obtained for recording either the original or a derivative as Flores did in a different language.
Additionally, BSCAP says works enter the public domain after the copyright has expired if the owner has forfeited their rights or agrees to place the work as such. Examples including classical work from Bach and Beethoven, and many church hymns. These works can be used to create new or derivative works for the purpose of, among others, education and promoting cultural heritage and history.
BSCAP adopted Minister of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology Francis Fonseca’s remarks on Sunday about understanding the “absolute importance of our artists legally registering and protecting their individual, original works.” It adds that Government must therefore collaborate, dialogue, and introduce measures on enforcement of copyright to protect infringements such as music users not licensing music publicly performed in their establishments, to ensure that the respect the Minister demands be given is given.
BSCAP does not mention the copyright status of other Leela Vernon works as she passed in 2017 and we intend to follow up on the issue.
The Minister had also directed the President of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) to complain to the relevant authorities about the apparent “theft” of the work. We will follow up on this as well.