Lil Bits

FAQ for Members

Enhance your understanding of our services to members of our organization.

Who owns copyright?

The first owner of copyright is the person who creates an original work. However, where the work is created by an employee in the normal course of employment the employer is regarded as the copyright owner. If a work has been commissioned, in the absence of any written agreement to the contrary, the work belongs to the creator.

What are your rights as a Copyright owner?

If you own the copyright you possess the sole authority to:

  • Copy the music
  • Issue, lend or rent copies to the public
  • Perform, show or play the music in public
  • Communicate the music to the public (i.e. broadcasting it via TV, radio, Internet etc.)

What happens to your rights when you become a COTT member?

In relation to musical works, copyright in the works is owned originally by the composer or songwriter who may assign such rights to a music publisher or an organization such as ours. When you join COTT your rights are transferred to us. Upon admission to membership of COTT, composers, lyricists, songwriters and music publishers assign the performing right and reproduction right in their music to COTT.

What service does COTT provide for members?

It would be impossible for the individual composer, lyricist, songwriter or publisher to monitor the public performances and broadcasts by thousands of users of their music across Trinidad & Tobago and the rest of the world, to issue licenses and collect royalties due. Similarly if the music of a composer, lyricist, songwriter or publisher is being recorded by another person it would be difficult for the copyright owner to keep track of such recordings. COTT monitors the use of music, issues licenses, collects license fees and distributes such fees to its members and reciprocal affiliated societies.

When does copyright start?

Copyright in a musical work arises automatically as soon as it is created. In Trinidad and Tobago there is no necessity for the work to be recorded or written.

How is copyright protected?

No official registration is necessary to secure copyright in a work. Under T&T law both musical and literary works are automatically protected from the time they are created. Consequently, in the event of a dispute over authorship, ownership or originality, there is no standard method of proving that one work was in existence before another.

There are however, suggested ways to help prove that the work was created on a specific date:

  • Send a copy of the work to yourself by registered mail leaving the envelope unopened and stored in a safe place together with the receipt from the post office.
  • Deposit a copy in a safety deposit box at a bank.
  • Deposit a copy with an Attorney-at-law. Legal fees are likely to be incurred for this service.

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

How long does copyright last in T&T?

Copyright in original works generally lasts for a period ending 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

How are royalties earned from copyright?

A copyright owner can exploit his/her copyright in the following ways:

  • Transfer legal ownership - This is the transfer of the right to another party in return for payment or other valuable consideration, known as an assignment. The copyright owner may assign all or some of the rights in a work, or alternatively, the transfer could be for a limited period of time. During the period of assignment only the person who has been assigned those rights may exercise them.
  • Issue licenses - Permission to use the work may be granted in return for payment with the advantage that many people can be licensed at the same time. A license may be granted for a particular duration or right.

Can I publish my compositions on internet?

Yes. As the author of the music or lyrics of a musical work, you alone can decide how the work is used.


    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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