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Lonnette Fisher Lynch, Manager of Copyright and Related Rights at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), has urged Jamaicans to adhere to the nation’s copyright laws or face fines of prison terms.
Mrs. Fisher Lynch, who was addressing a Ministry of Education and Youth organized workshop on the Copyright Act of Jamaica, yesterday (Dec. 4) at the Caenwood Centre in Kingston, warned that persons, who infringe the copyright of others, could face a fine of up to $100,000 per count, or up to two years imprisonment or both, if convicted in a Resident Magistrate Court.
“If you are convicted in a Circuit Court, you are at the mercy of the court, because there is no maximum fine and you can be jailed for up to five years, or both such fine and imprisonment,” she informed.
She added that persons could also be sued in a Civil Court for monetary damage and loss of profit. “You can also have your computer hard drive confiscated crushed and destroyed and the infringing copies as well”.
According to Mrs. Fisher Lynch, copyrights were very important in the Jamaica society, as they foster creativity and offer persons reward for their efforts.
Turning to the rights of the copyright holder, she said that these included exclusive rights and moral rights.
In terms of exclusive rights, she explained that “the creators of works protected by copyright and their heirs.have an exclusive right to use or authorize others to use the work on agreed terms.”
“It simply means that if you are the copyright holder, then only you will be able to give somebody written permission to do any of the things that you as the exclusive copyright holder could do,” she added.
As it regards moral rights, Mrs. Lynch pointed out that the copyright holder has the right to be identified as the author and “the right to object to one’s name being attributed to something one did not create, to (prevent) potential damage to reputation. The copyright holder also has the right to object to derogatory treatment of one’s work.”
In order for an individual to qualify for copyright protection, the work must be original and recorded in writing or otherwise. There is no requirement for registration or depositing copies of the work.
Copyright protected works includes: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; film, broadcast and cable programmes; sound recordings and typographical arrangements of published editions. It does not apply to an idea, process, principle, factual information, names or short phrases.
Copyright in a literary work lasts for the author’s lifetime plus 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. If the author is unknown, the copyright expires 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was made available to the public.