Registration of copyright protected works is not mandatory in Jamaica. An author is automatically vested with copyright once he creates and records certain types of works, namely: original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work; sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme; or typographical arrangements of published editions.
While there are no formal or procedural requirements stipulated for the vesting of copyright in an author, it has always been important that the author preserves evidence which will prove, in the event of a dispute, claim or relevant business transaction, that he/she is the original author of the work. Thus, it is usually recommended that, in addition to depositing the works with the National Library, the author should:
(i) Insert a copyright notice in the body or cover of the work. This notice should include the author’s name, date of creation and © or copyright. Where this notice is present in the work, it raises a legal presumption that the person whose name appears is the author and owner of the copyright.
(ii) Mail a copy of the work to himself as soon as possible after it is created. This is usually referred to as “poor man’s copyright” and traditionally involved mailing the work via registered post office mail service. Use of e-mail as a modern means of preserving this evidence should also be satisfactory to a court, provided that the requirements of the Evidence Act in relation to use of computer-generated evidence are satisfied.
On July 30, 2015 the Copyright (Amendment) Act came into effect and provides for a facility for the voluntary registration of copyright and related rights. Under this new law, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (“JIPO”) has been vested with the responsibility of administering the Register of Copyright and Related Rights. The name, address and relevant bio-graphical data of authors and owners of copyright (which may be an assignee), the title and description of the work and date of creation of the work are entered in the register. Copies of the work are also deposited at JIPO. Section 9A(2) of the Copyright (Amendment) Act provides that documents and extracts of the register certified by the Executive Director of JIPO or other authorized officer under the seal of JIPO, “shall in the absence of evidence to the contrary, be presumed to be authentic for all purposes and shall be admissible as evidence of the contents thereof for all intents and purposes.”
Registration of protected works in the Register of Copyright and Related Rights is not a condition precedent for claiming or proving ownership of copyright. However, the legal presumption of authorship and ownership, and the legal presumption of authenticity of the content of the registered documents provide a high level of protection to rights holders. This is also likely to prove very valuable in the rights clearance process for licensing deals and other commercial transactions involving copyright.
As with other intellectual property issues, MF&G’s Intellectual Property Department is available to assist rights holders who wish to register their works for protection under the Copyright (Amendment) Act.