Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Intellectual Property Office - Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago



On this page – Quick links
What is 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) 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.

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.