Copyright gives the creator of an original 'work of literature, science or art' the exclusive right to publish and/or duplicate it. For example, if you have written a book or created a work of art, you will want to prevent others from publishing or duplicating your work without your permission. Copyright is established automatically as soon as a work is created, provided that said work is original. The source code and graphic interface of apps and games are also covered by copyright, provided that they satisfy the conditions.

Sunny Copyright

Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary-, science- and artistic works including the exclusive right to publish and/or duplicate these works. Copyright only applies to works that are original and can be perceived by the senses.


Types of exclusive rights under copyright:

  • economic rights, these rights allow the owner to derive financial reward from the use of their works by others; 
  • moral rights, which protect the non-economic interests of the author, like the right to claim authorship of a work and the right to oppose changes to a work that could harm the creator's reputation. Example: cropping a photo in such a way that the composition is completely changed.

Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. Copyright may or may not be available for a number of objects such as titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship.

Duration copyright protection

In most of the world, the default length of copyright is the life of the author plus either 50 or 70 years.
For Sint Maarten, copyright is valid until 50 years after the death of the creator. When the period of 50 years has elapsed, the work is free from copyright and can in principle be used without restriction..

Is my creation original?

Three basic elements of copyright are originality, creativity, and fixation.

For your work to be deemed original, it must meet two conditions:)

  • The work must have been created by a person;
  • The work must be be an independent creation of the author.

The work does not need to be new. You can, for example, choose to write a book on a subject that has been written about before.
In order for a work to be protectable, it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. A work is considered fixed when it is stored on some medium in which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated.

Can my creation be perceived by the senses?

An idea in your head cannot be protected. It must be possible to see, read or hear your creation. Therefore, in order for a work to be protectable, it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. A work is considered fixed when it is stored on some medium in which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated.

Take the example of having an idea for a book about a certain subject. Others can still write a book on that subject. Each writer can base their work on different facts, findings and adopt a different perspective. It is only when the idea is fixed in a tangible/fixated expression, in the form of a text, with specific wording, a specific sequence and a particular approach to the subject, that the content can enjoy protection.

What can be protected using copyright?

Exhaustive lists of works covered by copyright are usually not to be found in legislation. Nonetheless, broadly speaking, works commonly protected by copyright throughout the world include:

  • literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspaper articles;
  • computer programs, databases;
  • films, musical compositions, and choreography;
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture;
  • architecture; and
  • advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

Can I register copyright?

In the majority of countries, and according to the Berne Convention, copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities.

Some countries nonetheless have a system in place to allow for the voluntary registration of works. Such voluntary registration systems can help solve disputes over ownership or creation, as well as facilitate financial transactions, sales, and the assignment and/or transfer of rights.

Please note that BIP SXM does not offer a copyright registration system or a searchable copyright database, we do however offer the option to show that you are the creator/author of a work or idea. This can be done in an I-envelope.

How can I obtain certified proof of existence for my creative work?

Using the i-Envelope complements voluntary copyright registration systems by offering creators the possibility of recording and digitally certifying possession of the work. This date and time stamped proof, which cannot be modified as long as the seal is intact, can certify the existence of the work at a moment in time.

Having an i-Envelope recorded at BIP SXM may be quite useful: if somebody else claims the creation is his or hers, your i-Envelope will allow you to disprove that claim. Having recorded evidence of your authorship at BIP SXM can be extremely essential in the event of a (legal) dispute. The date stamp serves as a legal means of proof. However, the i-Envelope itself does not provide (intellectual property) rights or legal protection. The rights on a creation exist by law.

Related Rights

Related or neighboring rights are a separate set of copyright-type rights given to certain persons or bodies that help make works available to the public. They are supplementary or subordinate rights arising from a primary right (copyright). This right exists automatically upon creation of the work therefore, you do not need to apply for related rights either.

Neighboring rights, protect the legal interests of certain persons and legal entities that contribute to making works available to the public or that produce subject matter which, while not qualifying as works under the copyright systems of all countries, contains sufficient creativity or technical and organizational skill to justify recognition of a copyright-like property right. (source: WIPO)

These rights protect, for instance, an actor's performance of a role, an artist's performance of a song written by another artist, and a video recording of a broadcast. In the event that a singer is also the songwriter, and performs the song himself, he holds both the copyright and the ancillary rights to this song.