JIS News

Members of the public have been urged to adhere to copyright and intellectual property laws, as contravention of these laws could attract fines or prison time.
Manager of Copyright and Related Rights at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Lonette Fisher-Lynch, told JIS News that although JIPO’s role was not to counteract piracy, it was becoming increasingly urgent to sensitise the public about the implications of such practices, especially with the increase of piracy of copyrighted materials.
Copyright describes a set of exclusive rights granted to creative works including dramatic or artistic pieces, music, writings, paintings, sculptures or computer programmes, which are protected by law up to 50 years after the owner dies.
Mrs. Fisher-Lynch told JIS News that Jamaica’s copyright laws were entrenched in the Burn Convention and were applied to all tangible works. She added that owners of copyright were not required to register with any organisation or submit copies of their original work.
Under the Copyright Act of 1993, persons found guilty of using another person’s work without their permission, could be fined or incarcerated.
“If convicted before the Resident Magistrate’s Court, the penalty is $100,000 per count or two years imprisonment or both. If convicted in a Circuit Court, the fine would be indefinite and imprisonment of up to five years,” the JIPO Manager told JIS News.
She said that there were means of legal recourse for owners of copyright, who believed their rights have been breached, but stated that through a procedure called ‘poor man’s copyright’, persons could avert such instances.
“Even before the Burn Convention was signed, the poor man’s copyright rule was a type of archival system that a person undertakes by simply putting a copy of his work in whatever form in an envelope and mailing it back to themselves by registered mail,” she explained.
Mrs. Fisher-Lynch said that once the owner received this mail, it should be kept sealed in a safe place and in the event that the owner’s right is infringed, then the envelope could be presented to the court as material evidence of his ownership of the work.

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