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How to apply for a copyright in Jamaica

by Aneisha Dobson
(St. James)

copyright in jamaica

Answered by Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

Undoubtedly, our little island has been blessed with an array of talented and creative minds, many of which helped to foster national identity.

When we reminisce about the colourful poetry of Ms. Louise Bennet and the musical artistry of Bob Marley, we can’t help but to have a deep sense of appreciation for these, our people, who have chosen to bestow their talents for the world to enjoy.

We have seen were many others have used their talents as a means of livelihood.

Artiste, for example, are able monetize their songs through online purchase or subscriptions; old folktales that were once told by elders have been printed unto the pages of published books.

But while that is happening, unscrupulous persons also found creative ways to capitalize on the works of the rightful owners. And so provisions are needed to protect the itellectual rights of owners. One such provision is copyright protection.

What Is Copyright?

According to Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers Ltd. (JACAP), copyright protects original dramatic, literary, musical and artistic work and allows this original work to be considered property of the author.

In Jamaica, the act that relates to copyright protection is called the Copyright Act.

Categories Of Work Protected

Jamaica’s Copyright Act (1993) outlines nine categories of original work that are protected.

These are:

  1. Literacy- Novel, Plays, sermons, poetry or computer programs
  2. Artistic- paintings, Drawings, maps, charts. sculptures
  3. Dramatics- dances
  4. Musical
  5. Sound recording
  6. Films
  7. Broadcasts
  8. Cable program
  9. Typographical arrangements of published editions

Works Not Protected

Works not currently protected under the act are:

  1. Titles/ names
  2. Short phases
  3. Slogans
  4. Ideas
  5. Concepts
  6. Processes
  7. Principles/Procedures
  8. Methods
  9. Factual information and other types of intellectual property

How To Apply For A Copyright In Jamaica?

Listen to this... Under the Jamaican Copyright Act, an author’s original work is automatically protected as long as it is in written or recorded form.

Therefore, official registration or application is not mandatory because it is automatically protected upon creation.

The copyright notice, which includes the word ‘Copyright’ and the copyright symbol, ©, along with the date of creation and the author’s name should however be visible on the recorded medium.

Additionally, it is encouraged that authors should do one of the following in order to assist in proving authorship of their original work:

  • The author can send a copy of the original work to himself / herself by registered mail. The enveloped should remain unopened and stored safely along with the receipt from the post office.

  • A copy of the work can be deposited to the National Library of Jamaica. In fact, the Jamaican Legal Deposits Act requires Jamaican residents who publish library matter to deposit copies of their publication with the National Library of Jamaica.

  • A copy of the work can be deposited to an Attorney-at-law

Who can own copyright in Jamaica?

Under the Copyright Act (1993), all Jamaican nationals, citizens and habitual residents and corporate bodies established under Jamaican Law can qualify as owners under the Copyright Act.

But, Jamaicans are not the only ones protected; nationals, citizens and habitual residents and corporate bodies established under the laws of other specified countries, which are listed in Regulations and under the Copyright Act, are also protected under Jamaican Law.

A few of these specified countries are the United States, Canada, countries of the European Union, Asia and Africa.

Note also that Jamaicans also qualify for international Copyright protection in more than 160 countries, including the United States, Canada, countries of the European Union, Asia and Africa, who are all members of the Principal International Treaty for Copyright protection, known as the Berne Convention.

But here's a BIG question...

How long will your Copyright protection last?

Well this all depends on the type of original work.

  • Literary, Dramatic, Musical, Artistic Works - Copyright protection lasts for the life of the Author plus Ninety-Five years (95).

  • Computer Generated Works – Copyright protection lasts for 50 years after it is made.

  • Sound Recordings and Films – Copyright protection lasts for 95 years from the end of the calendar year in which it was first made available to the public.

  • Broadcasts – Copyright protection lasts for 95 years from the end of the calendar year in which broadcast was made.

  • Typographical Arrangements – Copyright protection lasts for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which it was published.

Can a copyright be transferred?

Of course!

There are 3 ways in which an author can transfer their original work:

  • License – Here the Copyright owner allows another person to use their work for a specified purpose and time. The terms of the license are usually negotiated between the parties and fees are usually involved.

  • Succession – This is where the copyright is transferred on the death of the author, either by will or on an intestacy (when there is no Will) to surviving heirs.

  • Assignment – Here the Copyright owner bestows all rights and privileges associated with Copyright for the remaining duration of the Copyright term, except for the moral rights, which remain with the author forever unless they relinquish this right. In order for an Assignment to be valid it must be written.

Quite a mouthful right?

If you want to find out more information about copyright in Jamaica, you can visit the National IP office, Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) at:

Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO)
Ground Floor,
JAMPRO Building
18 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel:876.946-1300, 946-0789, 946-9216

Important Note

It is recommended that copyright owners become a member of a Collective Management Societies that assist in licensing of their rights.

Here in Jamaica these societies are:
Jamaica Music Society Ltd (JAMMS)
Building #2
7 Stanton Terrace
Kingston 6
Tel: 876 978 3275 / 876 322 4245

The Jamaica Association of Authors
Composers & Publishers (JACAP)
21 Connolley Avenue
Kingston 4
Tel: 876 9486439, 876 9485937

Jamaica Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY)
Building #3, 17 Ruthven Road
Kingston 10
Phone: (876)754.8910

You can deposit your original work at the following organizations:
National Library of Jamaica (NLJ)
12 East Street
Tel : (876)967-1526, (876)967-1526 , (876)967-2494 or

Intellectual Property Services Centre (IPC)
7 Stanton Terrace
Kingston 6
Phone: (876).946.9442
Fax: (876).978.2338

Remember, you have the right but also the responsibiltiy to protect your intellectual property.

I hope this information helps.

Until next time…



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