About Copyright and Related Rights

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What is Copyright?

Copyright consists of a bundle of different rights held by a creator of literary, artistic, musical or dramatic works.



Works Protected by Copyright

Under Jamaica’s Copyright Act 1993, copyright applies to original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programme, typographical arrangements of published editions. Literary works include works (other than a dramatic or musical work) which are written spoken or sung, such as poetry, plays, novels, sermons or computer programs. Dramatic works include dances and mimes. Musical works refer to the melodic content of the work - lyrics are treated as literary works. Artistic works include graphic works such as paintings, drawings, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings, lithographs, woodcut or similar works, as well as photographs, sculptures, collages, buildings and models of buildings.



Works Not Protected by Copyright

Copyright does not protect titles by themselves, nor names, short phrases, slogans, ideas, concepts, processes, principles or procedures, methods, factual information, Other types of Intellectual Property may be applicable.



How does Copyright arise?

Copyright protection arises automatically once an original work of the categories of works protected under the Copyright Act, is in a written or recorded form. The copyright notice,that is, the word ‘Copyright ‘ and the international copyright symbol , ©, should be visible on the recorded medium along with the date of creation and the name of the author of the work. The symbol should be placed on sound recordings to indicate the owner of the master recording. These symbols will give the public notice of the author’s or copyright owner’s claim of Copyright in the work.

Is Registration Required For Copyright Protection?

Registration is not a compulsory requirement to obtain Copyright protection under the Copyright Act of Jamaica or any of the copyright laws of the countries that are members of the Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works. There is also no requirement for a work to be deposited at JIPO in order to obtain protection. To secure proof of authorship in the work, creators can mail a copy of the work to themselves (in a sealed self-addressed envelope) by registered mail through the post-office. The unopened envelope containing a copy of the work can be submitted in Court of Law as evidence linking the work with the person claiming authorship. This is an internationally accepted procedure used in countries that are members of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Legal Deposits

It is a requirement under the Jamaican Legal Deposits Act, that any person resident in Jamaica who publishes any library matter (which includes any document, paper, record or tape) is to deposit copies of the publication with the National Library of Jamaica. This deposit also provides a publicly recorded link between the publisher and the work. For more information, contact the

Voluntary Copyright Deposit

A copy of the work can be deposited in our copyright register for a minimal fee. Feel free to contact our office and a representative will be happy to guide you through the process.

Who Can Own Copyright?

The author of a work is the initial owner of the Copyright in that work. All Jamaican nationals, citizens and habitual residents and corporate bodies established under Jamaican Law can qualify as owners under the Copyright Act. Nationals, citizens and habitual residents and corporate bodies established under the laws of other specified countries (listed in Regulations under the Act) including the United States, Canada, countries of the European Union, Asia and Africa, are also protected under Jamaican Law.

Are Jamaican Copyright Owners Protected Abroad?

Jamaicans qualify for international Copyright protection in more than 160 countries including those mentioned above, who are all members of the principal international Treaty for Copyright protection known as the Berne Convention.

How Long Does Copyright Last?

Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works lasts for the lifetime of the author and a period of ninety-five (95) years after the death of the author.

In cable programmes and broadcasts Copyright lasts for ninety-five (95) years from the end of the year in which the programme was included in a cable programme service, or the year in which the broadcast was made.

Copyright in a typographical arrangement of a published edition lasts for fifty (50) years from the year in which the edition is first published.   

Licensing Copyright Works

The Copyright Owner may grant an assignment or licence to another person, authorizing that person to perform any of the restricted acts in respect of the protected work/s. Restricted acts are: reproducing the work; issuing copies of the work to the public; making an adaptation of the work, broadcasting the work or including it in a cable programme service and; performing the work in public, or in the case of a sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme, playing or showing the work in public. It is recommended that Copyright Owners become members of recognized Collective Management societies which assist in the licensing of their rights. These societies will act on behalf of their members to negotiate licenses with persons wishing to use the protected works.



The Local Societies are:


In the USA: United States Copyright Office The Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. USA Tel: (202) 707 3000


In Canada: The Canadian Intellectual Property Office Place du Portage 1,50 Victoria Street Hull Quebec, K1A OC9, CANADA


How to Enforce Copyright

If your Copyright has been infringed, you may seek legal recourse by filing a law suit in the civil court. If your work has been pirated i.e. where copies are reproduced without permission on a commercial scale, the matter should be reported to the Organized Crime Investigation Bureau of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, located at the UDC Building, Shop # 68, 8-10 Orange Street, Kingston, Tel (876) 922 3771 Fax: (876) 967 5627.


Acts and Agreements


Copyright Forms