Copyright Qs & As: Canadian Copyright Questions

Last updated: 27 February 2013

12.1 Question: What is happening with the amendment of the copyright law in Canada?

Answer: The Canadian Copyright Act was most recently amended in 2012. Many of the provisions in the Copyright Modernization Act came into effect on 7 November 2012. See the consolidated Copyright Act for specific changes.

12.2 Question: Does the Canadian Copyright Act protect neighbouring rights?

Answer: In addition to the copyright protection of traditional copyright materials known as “works”, the Act protects “other subject-matter” or “neighbouring rights” including performers’ performances, sound recordings and broadcasts.

12.3 Question: Does the Canadian Copyright Act protect the moral rights of creators?

Answer: Yes, the Act has three kinds of moral rights: paternity, integrity and association. These rights give creators the right to have their names on their works and to prevent modifications to their works that may be harmful to their honour and reputation as a creation.

Syllabus for eTutorial on Canadian Copyright Law


  1. Lesley says:

    Hi Marilyn, this is an international copyright question. You need to apply the law where the work is being reproduced or otherwise used in the copyright sense. On the internet, copies are made in Canada, in China and likely en route as well. So from a practical perspective, consider applying the least permissible law.

  2. Marilyn says:

    In our distance education courses offered through the blackboard management system, there are course materials used under fair dealing. If an international student registers for this course, ie. from China, would we need to obtain additional permission as per laws of that country to cover the copyright? Or, since they would be accessing the course through our university website, would they be covered by Canadian Copyright Laws?

  3. Lesley says:

    Hi Marilyn, that’s up to your institution. The longer the better; perhaps you could keep electronic records so that you don’t have to take up valuable physical space.

  4. Marilyn says:

    I was wondering what the legal requirement is to retain copyright records, ie. permissions for use of material whether in the form of a license agreement or letter/email, etc.? Or is this left to the discretion of your institution?

  5. Lesley says:

    Hi Nadine, not sure what “a little bit of help” means. Are you co-authors? You need to determine your relationship first then examine how the law treats this relationship re ownership and exploitation of rights.

  6. Nadine says:

    I recently publish a genealogy book with a little bit of help with another person, but only I have the hard drive for it and this other person made photocopies without my permission. What is my rights in this?

  7. Lesley says:

    Hi David, the museum may be claiming copyright in a new work based on the PD work. Also, sometimes a museum is preventing access to a PD work via contract and not based on copyright.

  8. Dave says:

    How do museums claim copyright to images and documents that, based on their age, should be in the public domain, especially if they are available elsewhere?

  9. Lesley says:

    Hi Jaclyn, public domain or PD applies to all uses. Once the duration of copyright has expired in a work in Canada, then anyone may freely use or adapt that work without any restrictions in Canada.

  10. Jaclyn says:

    Hi Lesley:
    Does public domain apply only to non-commerical uses
    of works? The background to this question is a person wishes to show classic films that are now old enough to be in the public domain at a small boutique theatre for profit in Canada. Any advice you can offer in this matter
    is greatly appreciated!

  11. Lesley says:

    Hi Barbara, you need to clear the public performance right in a movie, musical work or other work on a cd or dvd prior to showing it beyond a “domestic” audience.

  12. Barbara says:

    I have two questions about digital formats. I believe a DVD must have public performance rights in order for someone to screen it before an audience such as a class or public event (unless they have permission) – correct? But what about CDs – do you need any special permission to play a CD for a class or outside group?
    Thank you

  13. Lesley says:

    Hi Lenore, great scenario. Generally, there is copyright is the original work as well as the translated work. You need permission to translate a work unless it is in the public domain. You own the copyright in the translation (the translator does or can assign it to an organization.) To turn the book into a movie, you need permission from the owner of the original work unless it is in the public domain.

  14. Lenore says:

    A non-profit organization has published a translationg a book originally published in Russian in the 19th century. The translation is by a member of the organization who died before it was published, who signed over the rights to that organization. Other translations into English exist as well. Does this organization have the right to option their translation for movie rights?

  15. Lesley says:

    Hi Julie, there is no exact rule for quotes/lyrics. You need to apply the principle of fair dealing from the Canadian Copyright Act. Visit the Canadian Copyright Office for info on registering your work.

  16. julie says:

    I’m currently working on an approximate 300pg Biography. I am wondering what is acceptable for copyright, quotes? lyrics? Also wondering what I would need to do to certify my original work and copyright protect it? Thank you I’m sure any information can be helpful

  17. Lesley says:

    @Drumzilla5150 Hi Drumzilla, in many countries including Canada, a performer has the right to consent to a recording of his performance and to prevent others from using any unauthorized recording.

  18. Sandy says:

    What are your thoughts on using 5 words from a song in a textbook? The same 5 words are repeated several times throughout the song, which consists of about 1,000 words. What do you think?

  19. Lesley says:

    Hi Tasha, you would have to review your licenses and see what rights the licenses are providing to you. Perhaps just viewing as you say, and Access allows you to make multiple copies of articles in the electronic publications. But as a I say, check what rights are covered in your direct licenses and your licence with Access to see what is covered by each.

  20. Tasha says:

    I have a question regarding digital publications, I have to admit they are still very confusing to me, so I was hoping you might be able to clarify. I work in a special library for a non-profit company in Ontario and I am the only librarian here. We have three journal publications that require us to buy site or viewing licenses. They range in price from $5 each to $50.00 each for staff to just view the publications on there own personal computers. We have a copyright licence from a company called ACCESS copyright. I was wondering why the library on a limited budget has to pay all these additional site licenses if we are already paying for a license from ACCESS?
    > Any clarification on this would be appreciated.

  21. Lesley says:

    Hi Glen, a few words of commentary may not by itself have copyright protection just as it is unusual for a title of a work to have copyright protection. However, “stories” of various lengths generally do have protection. It is unlikely that commentators assigned the stories to someone else (which must be done in writing) or declared that they are in the public domain, however perhaps there was a notice that mentioned that the stories could be used for various purposes, or you are comfortable implying a license in the circumstances? A bit of risk management you will have to analyze in the circumstances.

  22. Glen Boulier says:

    Hello, Just a question…

    Just a question in your busy day.
    I have recently done a manuscript on a subject of the Montana fire lookout
    tower rentals. Included in this, is over a hundred short stories from
    visitors at these towers as part of the public domain. There was no way really to locate these people. In my writings, I have included some of their stories, but not included their names. *Is this okay to do? I don’t want to step on copyright or infringement ideas. But would like to include the material. This all comes from the visitors’ log books that are present at these towers. We have left messages as well.
    Thanks for your time in this matter.


    Glen Boulier

  23. Lesley says:

    Hi Diane, if the letters are in the public domain, you may reproduce the letters. As for the microfilmed versions of the letters, they may or may not have copyright protection by the organization that microfilmed them. Check the copyright notices again and perhaps ask the organization — copyright in microfilms depend on various circumstances, so after your research, you may have to engage in a copyright risk management analysis.

  24. Diane says:

    Long ago, we obtained prints of a collection of letters that were microfilmed but wonder who owns the copyright. The organization that did the microfilms has a note on their web site saying the copyright is held by the creator. The letters were written over 100 years ago so are in the public domain but what about the microfilms and prints taken from them?

  25. Drumzilla5150 says:

    Just wondering…what are the copyright laws in Canada concerning performance. If I am playing on stage with a band (drummer) and someone else (not in the band) but is associated with the band, films the performance…then puts it on facebook. Who legally owns the footage?

  26. Lesley says:

    Hi Paula, generally the Canadian copyright law does not protect titles of a book or television show or movie. There are some exceptions to this rule which would have to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

  27. Paula says:

    What is the copy right on a name of a television show in Canada? Can the name be used in addition to another?

  28. Lesley says:

    Hi Terra, there is a provision in the Canadian Copyright Act which allows certain libraries to make a preservation copy of a work that is damaged. See section 30.1 and beyond at to ensure your act qualifies under this provision.

  29. Terra Plato says:

    My question is about making backup copies of CDs. My understanding is that libraries can make copies of CDs they own for back up purposes as long as the format is not changed. My question is whether a library can make a copy of a CD owned by another library because the CD they own is broken.

    Thanks so much.

  30. says:

    Hi Guy, I don’t know any specific sites for this purpose. However, I see that people are using Creative Commons Licenses for articles and books. You might want to check the CC licenses — there is a Canadian version of the licenses too.

  31. Guy Russel says:

    Do you know of a resource for copyright boilerplate text which could be used in a self-published book in Canada?

  32. says:

    A book cover is generally a copyright protected work and you should get permission from the copyright owner to make a copy of it in any format. Often the publisher has the right in the book cover which it has obtained from the illustrator. Sometimes when a book cover is included in a press release for a new book, there is implied permission to use the cover in certain circumstances.

  33. Noushin says:

    What is the copyright law in Canada on matters related to making photocopies/digital images of book covers/dust jackets?

  34. says:

    The current provision is subject to any agreement to the contrary. So, although the commissioner of a portrait or photograph owns that work — both parties can agree otherwise. It’s best for organizations to have policies that work for them whatever the copyright law says, then to consistent implement those policies. For the ownership of photographs, you can do this through agreements setting out what you agree upon (and where necessary get an assignment of copyright if you do not initially own it.)

  35. Chris says:

    The proposed Bill C-61 to ammend the Canadian Copyright Act introduces a change that will provide photographers with copyright for all comissioned photograpy work. This would become applicable for all comissioned photographs that are produced after this bill becomes law. How can an organization prepare for this change? My organization has on staff photographers as regular employees and also as contractors.
    I understand that the existing Canadian Copyright Act is unique as it does not recognize the photographer as the copyrith holder for comissioned phto work. Is this true?

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