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The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) has officially launched a Voluntary Copyright Registration System, which should result in increased financial benefits to the local creative industries.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, said the system, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, will not only facilitate the provision of independent proof of copyright ownership for the creators, but will also strengthen the contribution of the wider industries to the economy and society.

Mr. Budhan was addressing the launch of the system at JIPO’s offices today (December 12), on behalf of State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, who was unavoidably absent.

“As is already well-recognised, we have a rich cultural legacy with a relative high rate of orphan work where the author is unknown. Proving ownership is critical to the growth and development of this lucrative industry. We must now seek to exploit our creative industries to their fullest potential, thus boosting their contribution to the economy, while ensuing the protection of all rights holders,” he said.

He pointed to the tremendous potential of the creative industry to the economy as a significant source of growth, job creation, innovation and trade. He noted that with new technologies and the internet, small size and distance are not necessarily disadvantages, as these technologies make it more feasible to promote creativity and entrepreneurship in the global market.

The Voluntary Copyright Registration System is completely digital and is intended to bring possible solutions to the longstanding problem of the many creative Jamaicans, who fail to benefit financially from their works due to an inability to prove claims of ownership.

Creators, or their authorized agents, of a piece of work (whether it be literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, film, computer software), will be able to apply to JIPO for registration of copyright by completing two forms and submitting a digital copy of the work.

Once registered, creators of the copyright will be issued a Certificate of Registration from JIPO, which can prove as a link between the date of creation and the work. The certificate can also form part of evidence submitted to a Court supporting a claim of authorship.

Manager of Copyright and Related Rights, JIPO, Joan Webley, said the system will undergo testing at the Edna Manley College early next year, with full implementation slated for later in the year.

She also informed that there is a fee that is associated with the process of registration, but this has not been set as yet. She noted too that there will be a public education phase to bring awareness of the system.

The system was set up with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which had a presence at the launch in the form of Senior Advisor, Andrew Tu.

Mr. Tu noted that its introduction could help to protect the rights of the creators in their works and to contribute to cultural and economic developments in the country and the region.

The WIPO gave technical assistance to the project by facilitating the work of software developers and trained JIPO staff in the use of the system.