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What is copyright?
Copyright relates to artistic creations, such as poems, novels, music, paintings and cinematographic works. Copyright may also be referred to as author’s rights. It includes all literary works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artistes in their performances, producers of phonograms and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programmes.
The expression copyright refers to the main act which, in respect of literary and artistic creations, may be made only by the author or with his authorisation. The author has certain specific rights in his creation, such as the right to prevent a distorted reproduction, which only he can exercise, whereas other rights, such as the right to make copies, can be exercised by other people, for example, a publisher who has obtained a licence to this effect from the author.
Software is also protected by copyright, as it is a written code, and may be categorised as a literary work. In Trinidad and Tobago, works of mas are also protected under our Copyright Act. As with all fields of intellectual property, copyright is concerned with protecting the work of the human intellect. The domain of copyright is the protection of literary and artistic works.
These include writings, music, and works of the fine arts, such as paintings and sculptures, and technology-based works such as computer programmes and electronic databases. There are two types of rights under copyright: economic rights, which allow the owner of rights to derive financial reward from the use of his works by others, and moral rights, which allow the author to take certain actions to preserve the personal link between himself and the work.
The acts of translating or adapting a work protected by copyright also require the authorisation of the owner of rights. Translation means the expression of a work in a language other than that of the original version. Adaptation is generally understood as the modification of a work to create another work, for example adapting a novel to make a motion picture, or the modification of a textbook originally prepared for higher education into a textbook intended for students at a lower level.
Copyright is acquired by virtue of creation. It is automatic. There is no registration system. Copyright is generally protected for the life of the author, and for 50 years after his or her death.
• This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.
Co-ordinator: Roshan Ramcharitar
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