Sat | Sep 23, 2023

No copyright on ideas

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Edna Manley students performing at the United Nations' African Glory celebration in 2011.
Students perform in the 2011 Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts' graduation ceremony, held at Little Theatre, Tom Redcam Avenue.
Participants in the 2011 Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts graduation ceremony.

Speaking at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts' recent career workshop, law student Allyandra Thompson explained that with commissioned works (where an artist is hired to write a script or lyrics for a tune for a fee, for example), a written agreement on terms and conditions is advisable. "If a contract states that it is the right of the other party to use or own that work, even though you created it, you cannot use it for your own purposes," she said.

"Titles, names, ideas and short phrases are not protected by copyright," she said. "If you share an idea with a friend and that friend puts it in written form, you can't complain about that, since ideas by themselves, without being recorded or written down, are not protected by copyright."

Elaborating, Thompson said "assigning" a work means the creator gives over all rights to the work to another to use the work and to earn from it. "Once you assign it, you can no longer claim proceeds or royalties from the work. It's like selling personal property," she said.

Thompson said that under the copyright act a work is protected for the creator's lifetime plus 95 years, so that those named in the creator's will can benefit from the work.

Speaking on the importance of having a contract, Jaavonne Taylor said, among other things, that a contract helps to clearly identify a work to be created and its owner, specifies fees and timelines, states what happens if a work is aborted or cancelled, aids in licensing and assists the creator in getting paid.

Paulio Williams spoke on the advantages and disadvantages of the several types of businesses an artist can establish, such as sole proprietor/sole trader, partnership or registered company.

Aston Spencer spoke about the roles of Jamaica's various intellectual property registration a and collection companies - Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Jamaica Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY, Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) and Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) - and said that local copyright protection applies internationally.

The EMCVPA students were told that assistance is available at the Norman Manley Law School Legal Aid Clinic at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.