8 Facts About Canadian Copyright Law

Ottawa, Canada

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada

 Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

Happy 150th Birthday Canada! Celebrations are throughout the country during 2017. It’s also a good time to brush up on important facts about Canadian copyright law and get rid of copyright myths. There are so many interesting facts about Canadian copyright law. This post sets out eight random facts.

In late 2017, the Canadian government is mandated to review the Canadian Copyright Act. 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?

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.

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. (Compare 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.

Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by earning your Certificate in Canadian Copyright Law.

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.

Canadian copyright law facts and get rid of myths

Canadian flag on side of Museum of History in Hull, Quebec

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.

i.     Right of paternity which allows an author the right to have her name on her work, remain anonymous or to use a pseudonym.

ii.     Right of integrity which allows an author to prevent changes to a work that may be harmful to the author’s honour 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.

iii.     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 honour 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

FIVE – There is no fair use provision in Canada. 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.

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.

Join the Fall cohort of the Certificate in Canadian Copyright Law.

International Copyright Law

SEVEN – If you have copyright protection in Canada, then you have automatic protection in the “other” 174 countries that belong to the Berne Copyright Convention.  Canadian works will be protected in those countries according to the copyright laws of those countries. Similarly, works from any of the other 173 countries are protected in Canada under the Canadian Copyright Act (also see below).

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 US that would be protected in the US for life-plus-70. When in Canadian, you can apply fair dealing to the use of works, even to US works.

For more information on Canadian copyright law, see the book Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition.

One Comment

  1. Paul Pival says:

    Hmmm, does this mean Mickey Mouse is fair game in Canada?

    “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 US that would be protected in the US for life-plus-70.”

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