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Recently , I was surprised to be notified by YouTube  that there was a copyright strike on my account , threatening the viability of my account.
This was especially so , since all of my postings are related to our culture.

I was even more perplexed when I found that the tune in question was my post of a recording of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" as performed by Pamberi Steel Orchestra at Pan is Beautiful IV in 1986.

So , to get some clarification on the matter , I sent this letter to Imagem, the company issuing the copyright claim :

Mr. John White,
Dear sir,
I was made aware that a claim of copyright infringement was made against me on my YouTube channel , resulting in a copyright strike against my account ,and severely threatening the viability of my channel.
The work in question is Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" performed by the steelband "Pamberi" in Trinidad at a Music festival competition held in 1986.

I obviously have no claim to this music , and had no intention of profiting in any way from it.
As a matter of fact, my site is not monetized by me for any profit , since its sole purpose is to expose and promote the music and culture of Trinidad and Tobago, and especially the calypso and steelband music.
As you may know , especially because of its humble beginnings , steelbands take pride in their ability to interpret the music of the classical masters.

As a former steelpan player myself , I know that my efforts are appreciated by steelband and Trinidad culture lovers everywhere , and the steelband and players themselves do appreciate the exposure.
I am not being immodest in claiming that I've exposed many to rare videos and musical performances that may have been lost or forgotten had I not attempted to keep the culture alive.

Having my site shut down , sir, will do me no real harm , but will be a disservice to many culture lovers and performers who appreciate the fact that I've assisted in giving our culture and beloved art forms greater exposure via the web.

As far as I'm concerned , classical music played on the steel pan is definitely not hurt by such exposure , since the classics aren't exactly pop music.
Since the video in question has been removed I would appreciate it if you would remove the claim of copyright infringement, and remove the threat from my account.

And please notify me of any other questionable videos , and they will be removed.

Thank you,
Glenroy R. Joseph

This is the reply I received :

From: Lidia Kim
Sent: ‎Tuesday‎, ‎December‎ ‎16‎, ‎2014 ‎12‎:‎56‎ ‎PM
To: Glenroy Joseph

Unauthorized Arrangement of Rite of Spring

Dear Mr. Joseph:
I am writing to you on behalf of Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. about your arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (“Arrangement”). Rite of Spring is protected  by copyright outside of the United States, and Boosey & Hawkes is the music publisher representing this composition

Permission is required to not only to create a musical arrangement but also to reproduce, distribute and exploit that arrangement. It has come to our attention that there are several unauthorized uses by the Pamberi Steel Orchestra for Rite of Spring, including the creation of the Arrangement of the composition (performed in Trinidad in 1986), and its subsequent recording, reproduction and release as part of an album, available in physical copy and digital formats for distribution worldwide.

The unauthorized Arrangement is found on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, among others. In addition, as you know, we have sent a notice to YouTube.

Though we appreciate your efforts in increasing the exposure to classical music, we are unable to offer a license to create this arrangement of Rite of Spring. Stravinsky himself requested that his major works should be known and propagated in their original form and not subject to any arrangements beyond those, which he himself created and authorized in his lifetime. In deference to the composer’s wishes, it has been our long-standing general policy to decline permission for third-party arrangements of these works during the period of copyright protection.

Since the copyright is still protected outside the United States territories, the recording’s distribution must be limited only to the United States. Please cease to reproduce, distribute and exploit the physical and digital copies of this Arrangement outside of the U.S. and confirm your compliance immediately.

Nothing contained in this letter or omitted herefrom shall be deemed to be a waiver or relinquishment of any rights or remedies whatsoever that Boosey & Hawkes may have in connection with this matter, all of which rights and remedies, whether at law or in equity, are hereby expressly reserved.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Lidia Kim
Lidia Kim
Director, Business & Legal Affairs
Imagem USA
229 West 28th Street, 11th Floor
New York, New York 10001
T: 212 699 6518
F: 212 489 6637

To which I replied as follows :

Re: Unauthorized Arrangement of Rite of Spring

Thank you very much for your response, Ms. Kim,  I sincerely appreciate it.
i’ve explained my position regarding the purpose of my postings as a means of promoting our culture , with no desire of financial rewards.
Be further advised that I have no connection with the Pamberi organization , nor do I know or have any connection to any of its members.
As a Trinidadian (expatriate ) and former steel pan player myself , however, I am aware of this group as an amateur, youth oriented, cultural (steelband) group.
Such groups perform primarily at carnival  (Mardi Gras) and music festivals in Trinidad , generate little income and exist only with the help of government funds and , in some instances , corporate sponsorship.
 Because of the humble nature of the origins of the steel drum bands , such bands have taken pride in their ability to interpret classical pieces correctly and accurately , to the delight of audiences everywhere , and this is the first i’ve heard of copyright issues.

I'm somewhat disappointed at the resolution of this issue , since little if any monetary compensation is involved.
i wish you would consider listening to the unique piece , in you have any interest in world culture.

But , as they say , this  is America ,and business is business.

This is posted for consideration of the forum.

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Replies to This Discussion

Glenroy this can indeed be a big problem for the steel orchestras in the future. Will this also affect bands playing copyrighted Christmas tunes?


Bugs, I don't think that there are many like Booset & Hawkes who are going to waste their time going after small fish.

Cecil -- The times have changed by the technology and reach of the internet. On facebook, twitter and other social media everyone is a potential big fish.


Well, I take a different view. They have already clarified in their letter that the band Pamberi had allegedly, "subsequent recording, reproduction and release as part of an album, available in physical copy and digital formats for distribution worldwide." Boosey & Hawkes are just protecting their interest. It may be possible that permission can be granted with specific caveats included for bands to use copyrighted material; in other words, a license. Steel band organisations just need to step up, that's all. Many steel bands have stepped up and operate on a higher level, so the rest just need to download that software, as they say.    

You're absolutely correct - copyright holders could wipe away every penny invested and seek compensation for work done on copyrighted material without the expressed legal consent of the copyright holder. This is not to be taken very lightly.

Outside of some legal technicality that I'm not familiar with (given that copyright and internet related issues are somewhat in a grayscaled landscape)  they do have the legal right to prohibit use of the work as public domain outside of the USA. However it seems trivial to prevent use in this case since there's no direct and only an indeterminable probability of indirect monetized profit by the performer(s) or utilizer of the music. In fact usage here could benefit the copyright holder through additional exposure - so what am I missing?

There is Noise there is Sound and then there is Music.

My own humble musical taste believes Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring falls somewhere between noise and sound. He must have been the original punk musician / composer.

Perhaps steelbands should stick to their own compositions like Boogsie’s In the Rain Forest, a much better composition and far better on the ear. I doubt whether there would be any copyright infringements there.

Pamberi may have been bold and ambitious to perform this deranged piece but quite frankly I see nothing audibly pleasing in the Rite of Spring.  It’s pure cacophony.

As far as Boosey & Hawkes are concerned, I’ve visited their website and to be frank I understand their protectiveness but there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Randi Curvan

Unfortunately, Boosey & Hawkes are are following proper protocol with regards to copyright and music licensing. It is also unfortunate that I knew a day like this would come, where the steel pan and the music community in Trinidad and Tobago, as a whole would, would be a subject to copyright infringement.
There are lots of music being reproduced and put on CDs and other mediums by Steel bands and soloists, where the majority have never sought to get the permission from the composer, or in the this case, the company commissioned to protect the intellectual rights of the composer and his works. Most times on these recordings, composers are not even given credit for their works.
Be it for profit or not, we have to seek a mechanical license to reproduce someone else's music (property). Unless the composition is in public domain, which is somewhere after 50years or so (can't remember exactly), then can you use someone else's music without permission (to a point).
Glenroy, based on the history of their search, you just happen to be in the part where they are zeroing in on the band (Pamberi), whom is responsible for the reproduction of the work and also the sale of it, which makes them believe that a profit is being made off of a work of a client. Like it or not, Boosey & Hawkes are just doing their job.
If steel bands wants to reproduce someone else's work and add a bit of a difference to it, then they would have to copyright the work as a derivative and also credit the author of the work.
One more thing I would like to touch on; Performance Halls, theaters and schools etc.... all pay a certain fee to the publishing companies, hence anyone can perform other people's music without any problems. I am not sure if Pantrinbago and these other groups have anything arranged with COTT, Legal affairs or anyone else that's responsible for music publishing and copyright in TT.
There's a reason why myself and others write our own music. Mainly to avoid situations like this, and also to be able to profit from situations like this.
The pan community must do their homework.

My point entirely. Compose your own and copyright it yourself. You do the hard work and you benefit from income.

Hi Leon, That was an excellent response. I was looking for a "like" button but did not find one.

Well said - this should be a wakeup call on an issue that hitherto has been innocently unobserved by most of our music makers

This is an accurate and reasoned response, Leon. Copyright protection ends after 50 years after the death of the composer in T&T. In the US, it may be up to 70 years after the death of the composer. We in T&T have a lot of work to do. COTT (copyright and mechanical licenses, http://cott.org.tt/) and the dormant but soon-to-be reinvigorated TAPPs (Trinidad and Tobago Association of Producers and Performers, neighboring rights) as well as the Intellectual Property office at Min of Legal Affairs have a major education drive to undertake to move the inertia and the ingrained cultural habits of disrespect for laws and rules in T&T.


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