Our organisation was founded to protect the work of creators of music within the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
COTT was incorporated in 1984 as a private company limited by guarantee in anticipation of the Copyright Act 1985 of Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to the establishment of COTT, The Performing Right Society Limited (PRS) of the UK operated an agency in this territory as it continues to do in some English-speaking territories in the Caribbean. COTT was the first national collecting society to be established in the Caribbean and began operating in 1985.
Diana Derrick was the PRS Agent in T&T from 1980 until the formation of COTT when she became its first Manager. She tells her story of where it all began.
Diana Derrick was the PRS Agent in T&T from 1980 until the formation of COTT when she became its first Manager.
It was in 1983 that the late Denis de Freitas, as legal adviser to the UK Performing Right Society (PRS), recommended that, in tandem with Caribbean governments working towards up-to-date copyright legislation, creators of musical works should consider establishing their own national societies in at least Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and possibly Guyana.
History shows it was only in T&T that any action was taken at that time. Following on from penning a draft Copyright Bill for CARICOM, de Freitas drafted a Copyright Bill for T&T and worked with Dr. Edwin Watkins, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, to bring it to Parliament.
Thus the impetus for the formation of a society came from two quarters – PRS and the T&T Government. Knowing full well that the PRS members were unlikely to pick up the baton and establish a society without some help, Ms Derrick decided to kick-start the effort.
The initial meeting committee comprised the late Nappy Mayers, Bro. Resistance, Seko Tafari, Wade Simon, Arnold Shuffler, James Lloyd, Llewellyn Mac Intosh, Francis Escayg, and Seadly Joseph. We owed gratitude to de Freitas who helped us a great deal with advice and legal documents, a constitution and rules.
The Working Group accepted the suggestion of The Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) however in the early days, many interpreted our mission to include many areas of copyright such as photography, choreography, plagiarism, and literary works. Today the Copyright Music Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago provides services to creators of music.