How to: Copyright your music

November 06, 2015

Under Jamaican law, musical and literary works are automatically protected when created. It is the responsibility of persons involved in the creation process to license their original work in order to protect the material they created.

1. The Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) is a membership organisation which collects licence fees from copyright music users and distributes the money as royalties to the music creators. The music creators are the writers and publishers of music and the people who own the copyright (including the performing right) in that music.

2. Technically, the creator of a song receives copyright protection, automatically, the moment the song is in fixed form. That means that if an individual makes any recording, or transcribes a lead sheet with chords, melody and lyrics they would have secured a copyright.

3. These are the ways to help prove that the work was created on a specific date:

a) Send a copy of the work to yourself by registered mail, leaving the envelope unopened and stored in safe place, together with receipt from the post office.

b) Deposit a copy of the work(s)to the National Library of Jamaica.

c) Deposit a copy of the work(s) with an attorney-at-law.

4. The registration of a title of a work with JACAP (as is required of members) does not create copyright in the notified work.

5. In order for a JACAP member to give authority to others to act on their behalf, they will need to fill in a third-party mandate form. When filling in the form, members can choose what kind of access the third party has (such as changing personal details and access to online services).

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