Copyright Questions & Answers

Welcome to the Copyright Questions & Answers page of this blog where you will find a wealth of questions with practical, brief responses to help you with your frequently asked questions (FAQs) on copyright management and compliance issues. Do not act upon these answers as legal advice; always get legal advice when necessary. FAQs are categorized under the following headings:

Canadian Copyright Questions

Copyright Management and Copyright Compliance

Digital Copyright Issues

Duration of Copyright Protection

Fair Use/Dealing and Limitations on Copyright

Infringement of Copyright

International Copyright Issues

License Agreements

Museum and Archives Copyright Issues

Ownership of Copyright Materials/Content

Permission to Use Copyright Materials

Rights Protected by Copyright

Registration and Other Formalities for Copyright Protection

Types of Works Protected by Copyright

U.S. Copyright Questions

Click here to learn more about copyright law.


  1. Lesley says:

    Hi JP Brunel, ownership of copyright issues can be complex. However if you created all the videos, then you may have ownership in them. However, if you are incorporating copyright protected works in your videos, then you need permission to do so and can only use the videos incorporating the protected works according to the permissions you obtained from the artist.

  2. Lesley says:

    Hi Kevin, a copyright infringement can be in a different medium. If someone is using your work in any medium without your permission, you may have the right to stop them.

  3. JP Brunel says:

    Hi Lesly,
    Thanks for taking the time to review this question. I have a somewhat complex issue I believe, but maybe the answer will be clear for you. I have a series of a few videos on Youtube. I am a professional photographer and filmmaker. I have shot, produced, edited and published these videos myself with the music and all. I’ve put in several hours of work on these films. These videos feature the art of an ebru artist. We made a bunch of these one night but recently had a falling out. He re-uploaded these same videos from my channel onto his channel. You can clearly see my name on the copyright and at the end in the credits. I also give him proper credit at the end. Who has the rights to these films? I mean these are MY images and the movies are the fruit of MY labors with the editing and the music and all. What is the situation in a case like this? Here’s a link to one of the videos in question, all videos are similar.

  4. Kevin says:

    I have found a cartoonist on the Internet who draws a series of cartoons of which some are very similar to photographs I have made, using digital manipulation. I’d like to collaborate with the cartoonist but I am wondering if a similar concept in one medikum (drawing) can be considered copyright infringement in another medium (photography) and vice versa?

  5. Lesley says:

    Hi Bollywood, reproducing content generally requires copyright permission. Some countries’ laws do allow for parodies under specified circumstances. You would have to investigate your own countries’ copyright laws to see what is permissible.

  6. Lesley says:

    Hi De-Von – cartoon characters are generally protected by copyright and trademark law. To use existing characters you will need permission, unless the rights in the character have expired. Creating your own version of the character may be considered an adaptation of it and would likely require permission.

  7. bollywood says:

    I run a satirical website where I take news from news legitimate news channels and change the names for comical effect. Is there anything illegal there?

  8. De-Von says:

    I did read through the site but I was unable to find an answer. Basically I wanted to know if selling or giving out images of cartoon characters would fall under some sort of copyright infringement. I was told if the image was your own drawing and idea that you would be able to use it. I notice lots of people doing commission work of comic book characters, and tons of websites out there supporting it, but is that legal? For example if i drew a picture of spider-man in an original pose is that legal? Thank you

  9. Lesley says:

    In the U.S., you could try, an agency that provides licenses for the use of musical compositions.

  10. christine says:

    we are creating a 60 second video and want to use part of a musical composition for the background. How do I get permisssion to use this piece of music

  11. Martin says:

    Is posting music youtube clips on my facebook wall illegal? Can I be sued for that?

    There is this function that youtube provides for sharing music video clips. I personally know that basically everyone shares and posts these clips on their walls, but isn’t that illegal, and if so, can I be fined or sued for posting youtube videos of my favourite music bands on my facebook wall?

  12. John says:

    I am looking to advertise my law firm with “It’s MGM time!” but I am worried about copywright issues with the beer slogan “It’s MGD time!” Should I be concerned?

  13. Lesley says:

    These are issues that arise all the time. No quick answer and this area of law is changing daily — best to undertake some research where you will likely find articles discussing this and similar situations.

  14. Lesley says:

    Good idea to ask if permissions have been cleared for the purpose of reading/performing the book as well as posting on the website and allowing the public to access the recordings.

  15. M.Pinder says:

    The PTA at my child’s school in Ontario has initiated a project whereby parent volunteers are recorded reading books from the school library and the recording is then posted onto the school public access website as an mp3 so students can listen and follow along at home with a book they have borrowed from the school library. I highly doubt any permissions have been obtained from the
    author/publisher and have concerns of copyright infringement. Are my concerns warranted?

  16. Lesley says:

    Hi Lance, you can start by clicking on Digital as a category in this blog and see what content is relevant to you. Also try for Canadian info and the US Copyright Office for US info.

  17. Kevin says:

    I am attempting to start up a local newsletter. While much of the content will be opinion pieces and original work from staff members, I would like to add articles from other media sources. How do I go about this? For example, if the New York Times has an article I want my readers to see, how would I go about getting permission to use this? I am wanting to this with my up and coming website, too. Another example is a particle political website I frequent. They mostly have partial or even full articles from other media sources on their site, and they update daily. Are they getting permission per article, or do they have some sort of deal with the media source in general to use their content? Or, is this all fair use as long as I don’t change the article and quote the source and author? I am really confused on this. Please help.

  18. Lance says:

    Hi Lesley,
    Your contact form doesn’t seem to be sending through so I will post my question for you here.

    Thanks for your site.

    Would you mind pointing me in the right direction.
    I am trying to start-up a new online business and I’m trying to (cheaply) find out the current laws in Canada and the U.S. as they pertain to copying, framing, or mirroring information from another user’s site to mine to complement the main purpose of my site. For instance, I might want to ‘pull in’ a directory of accountants from another site or ‘pull in’ news feeds on a particular topic from one of the news providers. I would like to find out if this is legal without their permission.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  19. lesley says:

    Hi Carolyn, a patent is separate from a copyright. A patent protects an engine for example. However, there may be copyright in the text and drawings/sketches used to apply for that patent. Those works would be created by non-government employees – ie, by the patent applicant and therefore may have some protection. You say that the patents are by staff — in which case the archives/employer would own the copyright and be able to reproduce them.

  20. Carolyn W. says:

    I just got asked (and they wanted to know by Monday morning, of course) if patents are copyrighted and can be digitized. Our Archives likes to have copies of staff patents and are embarking on a digitization project and wanted to include some of the early patents that are not yet in digital form. My thought is that the published patents are government publications so should be copyright-free; is that correct? I wasn’t sure what to tell them.

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