By Dianne Daley McClure
Intellectual Property Partner | Foga Daley
Prior to 2015, there was no statutory registration system in Jamaica and no requirement for registration under the Copyright Act. With the passage of Jamaica’s Copyright Act of 1993, the government of Jamaica policy was to not impose a statutory system of copyright registration based on the principle of automatic protection under the Berne Convention, i.e. copyright protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality.
In 2000 a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, the Intellectual Property Service Centre (IPC), created a voluntary copyright recordation and deposit facility in conjunction with National Library of Jamaica, where copyright owners could file their ownership claims to copyright and deposit a copy of their work, to establish a public record of their claims. IPC became a nationally recognized voluntary copyright registration facility.
The Government’s Copyright Registration System
Copyright registration is now recognized under Jamaica’s Copyright Act. The government introduced statutory copyright registration through amendments to the Copyright Act in 2015 making it is possible to register your copyright at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO). The Copyright (Amendment) Act 2015 in force July 30, 2015, establishes JIPO as the Copyright Registry and outlines procedures and fees for registration.
The JIPO copyright system is an adaptation of the copyright recordation system carried out by IPC for several years, with one of the main differences being that JIPO only accepts works in digital format.
The JIPO Copyright Registration process requires the Applicant (author/copyright owner) to complete sign and submit an Application for Registration form as prescribed in the First Schedule to the Amendment Act. The original application (not a digital copy) must be submitted to JIPO. The Application must be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, Attorney-at-Law, Minister of Religion or Medical Doctor. The Applicant must also complete sign and submit a Declaration which is to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. A digital copy of the work (in specified formats) must be deposited with the application at JIPO.
The JIPO Copyright registration system is voluntary. Registration is not a condition for copyright protection. Copyright protection is automatic so long as the work qualifies for protection under the Copyright Act.
One of the benefits of the Copyright registration system is that the certificate of registration and other documents which are certified extracts of the JIPO Copyright Register are presumed to be authentic for all purposes and are admissible in evidence in any legal proceedings.
The JIPO Copyright Registration fees are based on the type of work. In relation to short literary works such as poems, song lyrics and short stories, the fees are discounted based on the volume of the works being registered by the Applicant. For longer works such as books and magazines the fees are based on the number of pages.