Facts about Canadian copyright law are set out below. How did we select these facts when there is so much information about Canadian copyright law? We selected some unique things about Canadian copyright law, some international facts and some basic facts that Canadians and others should know about copyright law in Canada.
The Canadian government has begun its mandated review of the Canadian Copyright Act (it is mandated in the Copyright Act to review the Act every five years). What copyright issues are of most concern to you? What would you like to see the government review? How does Canada’s copyright laws measure against copyright laws in the U.S. and around the world?
Facts About Canadian Copyright Law
Copyright Protection is Automatic
ONE – It is not mandatory to use a copyright symbol © in order to have copyright protection in Canada; protection is automatic upon a work being “fixed,” for example, a poem written on paper or a document saved on a hard drive.
If you’re creating music in a band, that music is protected once you notate it or record it. If you’re giving a speech or lecture, that speech or lecture is protected if written down or once it is recorded.
Duration of Copyright Protection in Canada
TWO – The duration of copyright protection in Canada is life-plus-fifty, or the end of the calendar year fifty years after the year in which the author died. Copyright expires on 31 December on that year.
Compare the life-plus-fifty duration to life-plus-seventy as in the US and in European Union countries. Note that the international norm for copyright protection duration as set out in the Berne Copyright Treaty is life-plus-fifty.
Registering Copyright Works in Canada
THREE – Deposit of a work with the Canadian Copyright Office is not possible; any copy of a work sent to the Canadian Copyright Office will be sent back to the applicant, without any examination of the work or verification of its relation to the application with which it was sent.
Sometimes Canadians who voluntarily register their works in the Canadian Copyright Office also register in the US Copyright Office where a copy of the work is mandatory – extra proof should the copyright owner need to pursue their rights.
Moral Rights in Canadian Copyright Act
FOUR – In addition to economic rights, the Canadian Copyright Act provides authors with three kinds of moral rights, rights that protect the author of a work.
- Right of paternity which allows an author the right to have her name on her work, remain anonymous or to use a pseudonym.
- Right of integrity which allows an author to prevent changes to a work that may be harmful to the author’s honor or reputation. This right has stopped the famous Michael Snow Geese sculpture in the Toronto Eaton Centre from having ribbons wrapped around the necks of the geese.
- Right of association which allows an author to prevent use of a work in association with a product, service, cause or institution that may prejudice the author’s honor or reputation.
Not all countries provide moral rights and each country that does have moral rights in its copyright law are unique.
Fair Dealing in Canada (Not fair use!)
FIVE – There is no fair use provision in the Canadian Copyright Act. There is a fair dealing provision for specific purposes: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review and news reporting.
If the use falls within one of these purposes, then you must determine fairness by applying your facts to the following factors set out in a Supreme Court of Canada case:
- the purpose of the dealing
- the character of the dealing
- the amount of the dealing
- alternatives to the dealing
- the nature of the work
- the effect of the dealing on the work; and any other factors that may help a court decide whether the dealing was fair.
In the 2012 amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act, two new purposes were added to fair dealing: parody and education.
YouTube or Mash-Up Exception to Copyright
SIX – The Canadian Copyright Act allows an individual to use copyright protected materials when creating a new work such as a mash-up and to post the new work online on a site like YouTube. This is a unique provision added to the Canadian Copyright Act in 2012.
International Copyright Law
SEVEN – If you have copyright protection in Canada, then you have automatic protection in the close to 200 countries that belong to the Berne Copyright Convention. Canadian works are protected in those countries according to the copyright laws of those countries.
Similarly, works from any of the other 200 countries are protected in Canada under the Canadian Copyright Act (also see below).
How international copyright law works in Canada
EIGHT – When reproducing content while physically in Canada, even content from another country, you apply Canadian copyright law. Thus in Canada, works have protection for life plus 50, even works created in the U.S. that would be protected in the U.S. for life-plus-70. When in Canada, you can apply fair dealing to the use of works, even to US works.
Need to learn more about Canadian copyright law? Read about the only copyright certificate program in Canada, the Certificate in Canadian Copyright Law. Designed for Copyright Officers, Copyright Librarians and other non lawyers who deal with copyright issues on a daily basis.
You may also like our Canadian Copyright Law Update.