The Guyana Government is working with a number of international organisations including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) on the draft Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Copy Right legislations, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge.“We are working with WIPO, which is the Office in Geneva that deals with intellectual property rights. And the idea there is that we would develop a National Intellectual Property Strategy (NIPS), which will be a blueprint so that we can move forward. Copyright is an aspect of this… This is an area where the WIPO secretariat is to work with us on and we are also working with them and CARICOM in that area,” Greenidge said at his Ministry’s year-end press conference last week.According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, WIPO would need approximately six months to complete its work with the NIPS and by mid next year, they should deliver their work.Earlier this year, Government had announced that it was in the process of updating and enforcing the IPR legislation. The IPR legislation allows creators to safeguard their work through patents, trademarks and copyrights, resulting in prevention of plagiarism with the relevant laws as artillery should the need arise. In fact, the US Embassy here, in an attempt to get the consultation process started, hosted a panel discussion back in April during which focus was placed on the importance of IPR and how it would affect and benefit Guyanese artistes.Meanwhile, with regards to the Copy Right’s law, which according to Minister Greenidge has proven to be a more “vexing and contentious” area, a review of Guyana’s draft legislation was completed. However, he noted that there are some other areas where more work will have to be done.“What we are supposed to do, is to work with them on the Industrial Property Legislation – that’s another arm of it. And also, they are proposing to work with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs on the question of geographical indications,” the Foreign Affairs Minister noted.However, he pointed out that the work with Caricom in this regard is proving to be a bit more difficult since there are more countries involved. Nevertheless, he stated that 2019 will see some of the reports come out on areas including Intellectual, Industrial, and Copy Rights.Following Government’s intention to table copyright legislation, stakeholders are worried about the impact this could have on the local economy, as many small businesses could possibly close as a result of the incoming change. In fact, several CD and DVD vendors have already expressed concerns over the effect this will have on their trade which sustain their livelihoods.Moreover, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, weighed in on the issue saying, “I hope that people will understand… it will be a revolution in Guyana… every video store in this country will have to close that sells these bootlegs. And every store that sells music now… the way they currently do, it will have to shut those down too, as well as the guys who are doing the push cart, they can be charged too”.While acknowledging that some may be in disagreement with the position, he clarified that Government should place more emphasis on protecting local intellectual property rights rather than focusing on safeguarding international content.Over the years, local musicians have lamented that being a performer in Guyana is a somewhat risky business, since persons have the constant fear of having their work copyrighted, especially since there are only small fines for infringements under old laws.The current legislation, the 1956 Copyright Act, which Guyana inherited from Great Britain following Independence in 1966, has never been revised, even though its former colonial master has long repealed the legislation that deemed copyright infringement a civil wrong.Though the current Act does provide protection of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works, the fines are extremely low, ranging from £5 to £50 (GY$1750-GY$17,500).