Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission. You get copyright protection automatically - you don’t have to apply or pay a fee. There isn’t a register of copyright works in Bermuda.
You automatically get copyright protection when you create:
- original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography;
- original non-literary written work, eg software, web content and databases;
- sound and music recordings;
- film and television recordings;
- the layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works.
How copyright protects your work
Copyright prevents people from:
- copying your work
- distributing copies of it, whether free of charge or for sale
- renting or lending copies of your work
- performing, showing or playing your work in public
- making an adaptation of your work
- putting it on the internet
How long copyright lasts
Copyright protection starts as soon as a work is created. Once your copyright has expired, anyone can use or copy your work.
The length of copyright depends on the type of work.
Type of Work
How long copyright usually lasts
Written, dramatic, musical and artistic
70 years after the author’s death
Sound and music recording
70 years from when it’s first published
70 years after the death of the director, author of screenplay, author of dialogue and composer
50 years from when it’s first broadcast
Layout of published editions of written, dramatic or musical works
25 years from when it’s first published
Licencing and selling your copyright
You can licence the use of your work if you own the copyright. You can also decide how your work is used.
You can register your work with a licensing body, eg a collecting society, who will agree licences with users for you and collect royalties for you. A collecting society is a type of licencing body which grants rights on behalf of multiple rights holders in a single (blanket) licence for a single payment. The collecting society charges a fee for the licence, from which it deducts an administrative charge before distributing the remainder as royalties.
Sell or transfer your copyright
You’ll need to write and sign a document (sometimes called an assignment) to show a sale or transfer has taken place.
Your copyright can be transferred by inheritance and will be valid as long as the work remains in copyright.
You can keep or waive your moral rights, which include the right to:
- be identified as the author of your work;
- object to how the work is presented, eg if you think it’s derogatory or damaging to you or your reputation;
- object to changes made to your work.
You have rights in your performances separate to copyright if you’re a performer. For example, if you’re an actor in a play you may have economic rights in any recordings or broadcasts of their performance, even if the copyright is sold.
Stop people using your work
You’re responsible for defending your copyright material against infringement. Some people or organisations (eg libraries or schools) may be able to use copyright work without permission. You should check whether someone’s use of your work is permitted before trying to stop them.
If you have a dispute about licensing, your collecting society can contact the Bermuda Copyright Tribunal and ask them to decide on some disputes about licensing.