What is a Copyright?

This is a property right, which subsists in literary and artistic works that are original intellectual creations. Works covered by Copyright include, but are not limited to novels, poems, plays, reference works, articles, computer programmes, databases, films, musical compositions, paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architecture, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.

Copyright protects all literary and artistic works that we create whilst using our intelligence and our imagination provided it is expressed in a tangible form. The people who are the creators are usually called ‘authors’ even if they are really painters, photographers, writers, artists, composers etc . Copyright laws grant authors, and other creators protection for their literary and artistic creations, generally referred to as “Works”.

A closely associated field is “Neighbouring Rights” or “Related Rights”, or rights that encompass rights similar or identical to those of Copyright, although sometimes these can be limited and of shorter duration.

The beneficiaries of Related Rights are:

  • Performers such as actors and musicians in their performances;
  • Producers of phonograms (for example, compact discs /other) in their sound recordings; and
  • Broadcasting organizations in their radio and television programs.

In Trinidad and Tobago ‘Works of Mas’ are also protected by Copyright. The term ‘Works of Mas’ involves a combination of tangible manifestation, such as a physical costume and intangible manifestation such as a style of dance, a style of oratory, etc. This provision is intended to protect producers of Works of Mas especially as it relates to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival celebrations.

Excerpt taken from The Creative Caribbean video produced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), 2006.


Rights Provided by Copyright and Related Rights

The creators of works protected by Copyright, and their heirs and successors (generally referred to as “right holders”), have certain basic rights under Copyright Law. The creators want to maintain the control over their works, so the main idea behind Copyright is to prevent others from copying the works, in whatever form that copying may take.

The creators of the works hold the exclusive right to use or authorize others to use the work on agreed terms.

The right which holder(s) of a work can authorize or prohibit includes:

  • Its reproduction in all forms, including print form and sound recording;
  • Its public performance and communication to the public;
  • Its broadcasting;
  • Its translation into other languages; and
  • Its adaptation, such as from a novel to a screenplay for a film.

Many types of works protected under the laws of Copyright and Related Rights may require mass distribution and dissemination.

These include publications, sound recordings and films.
Hence, creators often transfer these rights to companies or Collective Management Organisations (CMO’s) better able to develop and market the works, in return for compensation in the form of payments and/or royalties.

The economic rights relating to Copyright are of limited duration, for the life of the author and for fifty (50) years after the authors’ death.

Related Rights enjoy shorter terms, normally 50 years after the performance, recording or broadcast.
Copyright and the protection of performers also include moral rights, meaning the right to claim authorship of a work, and the right to oppose changes to the work that could harm the creator’s reputation.

Rights provided for under Copyright and Related Rights laws can be enforced by right holders through a variety of methods, including civil action suits, administrative remedies and criminal prosecution.
Injunctions, orders requiring destruction of infringing items, inspection orders, among others, are used to enforce these rights.


Benefits of Protecting Copyright and Related Rights

Copyright and Related Rights protection is an essential component in fostering human creativity and innovation.

Giving authors, artists and creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic reward increases their activity and output and can also enhance the results.

By ensuring the existence and enforceability of rights, individuals and companies can more easily invest in the creation, development and global dissemination of their works. This, in turn, helps to increase access to

and enhance the enjoyment of culture, knowledge and entertainment and also stimulates economic and social development.

(Be careful not to confuse the word artist with artiste. In this instance, relative to its application when used in reference to Traditional Copyright, as opposed to that of Neighbouring Rights, “the-difference-between.com/artiste/artist” explains:

“As nouns, the difference between artist and artiste is that artist is a person who creates art while artiste is a public performer, especially of song or dance.”)


Copyright, Related Rights and Technology

The field of Copyright and Related Rights has expanded enormously during the last several decades with the spectacular progress of technological development that has, in turn, yielded new ways of disseminating creations by such forms of communication as satellite broadcasting and DVDs.

Widespread dissemination of works via the Internet raises difficult questions concerning Copyright and Related Rights in this global medium.

At an international level, the World Intellectual Property Organization is involved in the ongoing debate to help shape new standards for Copyright protection in cyberspace.

In that regard, the Organization administers the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, known as the “Internet Treaties”. Trinidad and Tobago acceded to both the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty on November 28, 2008.

These treaties clarify international norms aimed at preventing unauthorized access to and use of creative works on the Internet.


Is Registration of Your Work Required?

“In Trinidad and Tobago registration is not required under The Copyright Act to obtain Copyright protection. Copyright protection is automatic. No formalities are required as a precondition for obtaining Copyright protection.”


Must you use the Copyright Notice (with the Copyright sign)?

It is not necessary to use the Copyright notice. The use of the word “Copyright” is enough. It is however useful to use the © followed by your name and date to indicate when it was created and by whom.


Regulating Copyright and Related Rights

Copyright and Related Rights protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities.

However, many countries provide for a national system of optional registration and deposit of works.
These systems facilitate, for example, questions involving disputes over ownership or creation, financial transactions, sales, assignments and transfer of rights.
Many authors and performers do not have the ability or means to pursue the legal and administrative enforcement of their Copyright and Related Rights, especially given the increasingly global use of literary, music and performance rights.

As a result, the establishment and enhancement of collective management organizations is a growing and necessary trend in many countries.

These societies can provide their members with efficient administrative support and legal expertise in, for example, collecting, managing and disbursing royalties gained from the national and international use of a work or performance.

Certain rights of producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations are sometimes managed collectively as well. There also exist collective management organizations for reprographic rights. These organizations collect royalties from the photocopying of copyrighted works such as books and magazines.

Neighbouring Rights

Protection of Performers, Producers of Sound Recordings and Broadcasting Organisations 

Neighbouring Rights are property rights which subsist in performances, sound recordings and broadcasts and is sometimes referred to as “Related Rights”, a term in Copyright Law, used in opposition to the term “Authors’ Rights“. The term Neighbouring Rights is exactly equivalent, and is a more literal translation of the original French droits voisins, as related rights in Civil Law are similar to that of Authors’ Rights, but are not connected with the work’s actual author. Both Authors’ Rights and Related Rights are Copyrights in the sense of English or U.S. law. There is no single definition of related rights, which vary widely in scope between different countries than that of Authors’ Rights.

(Local protection of Performers, Producers and Broadcasters rights are provided for in the Copyright act of Trinidad & Tobago, amended version 2008) under Neighbouring Rights.


The Copyright Act of Trinidad and Tobago, 2008. Part VI, Ownership and Assignment 26

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2) to (5), the original owner of Copyright is the author who has created the work. (1A) Subject to the provisions of section 25 and subsections (7) to (9), the original owners of Neighbouring Rights in— (a) a performance, is the performer in the performance; (b) a sound recording, is the producer of the sound recording; and (c) a broadcast, is the broadcasting organisation. (2) In respect of a work of joint authorship, the coauthors shall be the original owners of Copyright, but if a work of joint authorship consists of parts that can be used separately and the author of each part can be identified, the author of each part shall be the original owner of copyright in the part that he has created. (3) In respect of a collective work, the natural person or legal entity at the initiative and under the direction of whom or which the work has been created shall be the original owner of copyright. (4) In respect of a work created by an author employed by a natural person or legal entity in the course of his employment, the original owner of copyright shall be, unless provided otherwise by agreement, the employer.


Offences by bodies corporate. [5 of 2008].

Where an offence under this Part committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate commits an offence and in the case of an officer of such body corporate, is liable, upon conviction, to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for ten years and in the case of the body corporate, is liable upon conviction, to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. 43. No prosecution for an offence under this Act.

Works of Mas

The Definition of “Works of Mas” Under the Copyright Act. 82:80

A “Work of Mas” is an original production intended to be performed by a person or group of persons in which an artistic work in the form of an adornment or image presented by the person or persons, is the primary element of the production and which such adornment or image may be accompanied by words, music, choreography or other works, regardless of whether the production is intended to be performed on stage, platform, street or other venue.



This Act shall also apply to Works made, Performances given, Sound Recordings made and Broadcasts first transmitted before the date of the coming into force of this Act, Copyright 1985.


“Works of Mas” therefore comprises:

The performer in the performance (The Masquerader/Live Performer)

Author/Composer (Music)

The Designer/The producer

The Bandleader – as the owner of the entire production


Who are TTCO’s members under “Works of Mas”?

300 members of the NCDF (Legacy, Tribe, Spice, Fantasy, Island People etc.) as well as, individual bandleaders, designers and producers.


Who are some of the other organisations that must sign into TTCO under “Works of Mas”?

NCC, NCBA, Pantrinbago, TUCO, Broadcasters/Television Stations, Commercial Businesses, Borough Corporations, Print/Producers of Magazines, Designers/Design House, Movie Houses/Cinemas.

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