I read recently that the Marley family had hired a firm in Canada to look after its rights management issues as it relates to Bob Marley’s image. The report said the family were losing money because many across the world were exploiting the King of Reggae’s image.
And, I must say I commend the Marley’s for their move. Lest we forget, Vybz Kartel and Mavado’s image were being exploited in a way in which neither were publicly pleased about recently. And while the use of their image in that particular fashion was not something they were proud of, it only shows how much money local artistes lose through exploitation daily.
While many of us will think the Marley’s are reacting unnecessarily, it is time that we as Jamaicans start understanding that an artiste is a brand and his product goes beyond his music. In other words gaining a number one hit should not be viewed as ‘dem bussing’ alone. Instead, as soon as the artiste achieves the feat of a number one record anywhere on the planet he or she should start taking steps to protect their rights and image.
For too long, Jamaican artistes have allowed their photos and images to be used without thinking that they are losing out on potential revenue. If the product that their image endorses becomes popular, the artiste loses out because he or she did not secure their rights.
You see, an artiste protecting is or her rights should not be viewed as a ‘fight ‘gainst poor people’. Instead it should be viewed as the artistes securing their pension. For too long many of our artistes have spent their last years living modestly or in poverty for one reason or another. And, some of the very same people who exploited them (whether it be their images or through piracy) are the same ones who belittle them. And if that’s not bad enough these artistes are sometimes dependent on public assistance for help. While it can be argued that some artistes waste their resources in the ‘good times’, we must acknowledge that they are exploited by some of the same people who say they are fans.
Hence, I commend the Marley’s actions. While many of our dancehall celebrities are not on that level yet, it is certainly an act they can follow. For too long, the fans and also the dancehall acts have viewed such exploitation as publicity and not for what it is – full blooded exploitation.
So I say to the Marley’s hats off to you and well done!