Copyright is the exclusive property rights given to protect the creators of literary and artistic works. The aim of copyright is to promote science, culture and the arts. Copyright reward the creators of works by granting them rights, and strike a balance between these rights, and the interest of the public and entrepreneurs such as publishers, broadcasters, record companies and the like.

The legal framework for copyright protection in Dominica is the Copyright Act, Act No. 5 of 2003.

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) which is the oldest international convention governing the protection of copyright, to which Dominica is a signatory, gives in broad terms what creations are to be protected by copyright laws:

"The expression 'literary and artistic works' shall include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression, such as books, pamphlets and writings; lectures, address, sermons and other works of the same nature: dramatic or dramatico-musical works; choreographic works and entertainments in dumb show; musical compositions with or without works; cinematographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to cinematography; works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography; photographic works, to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography; works of applied art; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science. … Translations, adaptations, arrangements of music and other alterations of a literary or artistic work shall be protected as original works without prejudice to the copyright in the original work… collections of literary or artistic works such as encyclopaedias and anthologies which, by reason of the selection are arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations shall be protected as such, without prejudice to the copyright in each of the works forming part of such collections."

The owners of copyright have the exclusive right of authorizing public performance, broadcasting and communication to the public of their works. Therefore, the presentation of a play in a theatre or a musical concert in a hall, the playing of music in discotheques, in street jams must be authorized by the copyright owner.

He has to authorize the translation or adaptation of his work into another language, a play or a movie for example. These translations or adaptations are also protected by copyright laws in their own right as original works.

Works derived from those original works are also protected in their own rights, these include:

  • Translations, adaptations, arrangements and other transformations or modifications of works; and
  • Collections of works, collections of mere data (databases) whether in machine readable or other form, and collections of expressions of folklore, provided that such collections are original by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents.