Faye Ann Lyons-Alvarez

FAQ for Licensees

Enhance your understanding of licensing of musical works and how it benefits all parties in the music industry

What are the benefits COTT offers to the user of music?

If every user of music had to negotiate a license with every copyright owner, it would be a very costly and time consuming, if not impossible, task. COTT exists to facilitate the legitimate use of music. For a very moderate fee, COTT issues licenses to the users of music which permits the immediate and legal use of any of the works within COTT’s extensive repertoire.

If I have a private fete or party do I need a licence?

One of the most important means by which the owners of the rights in a song earn income is through the royalties paid for the public performance of their work. As a result of the effort expended in the creative process and the importance of creative activity in economic, social and cultural development, the creators of artistic works, including music and those who finance and commercialise these works, are under the Copyright Act of Trindad entitled to be compensated for the use of their music, including when it is played in public

Why does the law protect songwriters and not my business?

There are different laws for different areas.  The law protects the economic interests of the creators of artistic works; it does not discriminate against businesses using music.  The main principle is that no one, especially for-profit organisations, should exploit the property of someone else without compensating them.

How do I know the songs I play are under copyright?

As a result of its reciprocal agreements with foreign societies, COTT protects a repertoire of works (over 13 million) written by hundreds of thousands of songwriters worldwide.  Under the law it is the duty of the music user to make sure that the music, whether local or international that you play, do not infringe copyright.

Is it illegal to copy and distribute music even if I am not doing it for money?

Yes; whether or not you are making money from your activity will only have an impact on the level of penalties applied by the courts.

Does it matter how music is performed?

It is of no consequence whether the public performance is given live or by means of a radio, television, stereo player, juke box, video or karaoke. Neither does it matter if no admission fee is charged nor whether the performers are paid or not. Further the possession of a record, tape or CD does not grant the right to perform that music in public. In each of these instances a COTT license is necessary.

I already pay the musicians, do I have to pay royalties to COTT too?

The musicians’ fees remunerate their performance. Their fee does not cover the authors’ creative work or the right to perform the authors’ works. The performer and the author are two legally separate persons even if they may be one and the same individual. Each of the performer and the author is entitled to remuneration: the author is entitled to a royalty and the performer to his fee.

What happens if I do not have a licence?

When a COTT licence has not been obtained for the public performance, manufacture or importation of sound recordings, films or videos which reproduce works or where a radio or television advertisement is made which reproduces works from the COTT repertoire, civil action for copyright infringement may be instituted.  Remedies granted include damages, legal costs and an injunction that prohibits the performance or the manufacture, importation or distribution of recordings of any musical works in COTT's repertoire.

Do non-profit organizations need a COTT licence?

Yes; as long as you use copyright protected works, you will need a licence.  Nonetheless, where the proceeds are going to charity, a licence may be granted at a nominal fee.

Do I need a licence even though I bought the CD?

If the music is being performed publicly, then although you may own the CD you do not have the right of public performance which remains with the copyright owner.  You will therefore still need a COTT license.

What if copyrighted and non-copyrighted music is played?

COTT may not represent all the work on a compilation, because some work may be in the public domain (out of copyright) or the owner(s) of the relevant copyright may not be a member of COTT or any international societies that protect copyright. If any of the work is represented by another organization, then permission will have to be obtained from that copyright owner. A COTT license will only cover the reproduction of the works controlled by COTT, however unless in public domain, most work is still covered by a master use license.


    Machel and Kes the Band for the 2011 Soul Train Awards

    machelThe Soul Train Music Awards for 2011, have nominated both reigning Road March and Soca Monarch, Machel Montano, and Groovy Soca Monarch Kes Dieffenthaller of Kes the Band for the prestigious award in the category of Best Caribbean Performance with their hit singles, “Bend Over” and “Wotless”.

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