10 Myths About Canadian Copyright Law

Does fair use exist in Canada?  Do you have to register a work to be protected by Canadian copyright law?  Does Canada belong to the international treaties on copyright?  Read 10 Myths About Canadian Copyright Law by Lesley Ellen Harris to ensure your knowledge about Canadian copyright law is accurate.

  1. MYTH:  Ideas are protected by Canadian Copyright Law.
    • Ideas, facts, history and news are not protected by Canadian copyright law.  It is the expression of ideas, etc., that are protected by copyright.
  2. MYTH:  Canada’s copyright duration of life plus 50 is inconsistent with the international norm.
    • The international norm for the duration of copyright protection is life of the author plus fifty years.  This is set out in the leading international copyright treaty, the Berne Convention. However some countries, including the U.S. and European Union countries, go beyond this norm and now provide copyright protection for life-plus-70.
    • Canada has now extended the protection of copyright in performances and sound recordings to 70 years after the release date of the sound recording. This new term is effective 23 June 2015.
  3. MYTH:  The Canadian Copyright Act has been rewritten twice in the past century.
    • The current Canadian Copyright Act was enacted in 1924 and has never been replaced by an entire new Act.  The current Act has, however, been amended a number of times.  Current Canadian government initiatives have been to amend the Act rather than overhaul it and replace it with an entirely new Act. The most current major amendments to the 1924 Act are in Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, which received royal assent on 29 June 2012.  Most of the changes came into force in November 2012.
  4. MYTH:  Creators in Canada must register their works in the Canadian Copyright Office.
    • Copyright is automatic upon the creation of a work in a fixed form.  One may register their works with the Canadian Copyright Office and will then receive some benefits should they ever enforce their rights in a legal suit.  However, registration is not mandatory for copyright protection.
  5. MYTH:  Canada is not a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) leading treaty on copyright, the Berne Convention.
    • Canada joined the Berne Convention in 1928.  In addition, Canada joined the two WIPO digital/Internet treaties in 2014.
  6. MYTH:  Fair use exists in Canada.
    • Fair use is a doctrine that exists in the U.S. and other countries; it does not exist in Canada. The Canadian Copyright Act contains the principle of fair dealing which is often compared to the U.S. fair use.
  7. MYTH:  Canadian government works are not protected by copyright.
    • Canadian government works are protected by copyright however “Permission to reproduce Government of Canada works, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes, is not required, unless otherwise specified in the material you wish to reproduce.”  See Government of Canada Publications.
  8. MYTH:  Employers are considered the authors of the works produced by their employees.
    • Works created in the course of employment during the course of an employee’s duties belong to the employer.  However, the author/employee remains the author of the work.  Duration of protection of the work is determined by the employee/author’s life, and the employee retains the moral rights in such works.
  9.  MYTH:  Using the copyright symbol, ©, is necessary to have copyright protection in Canada.
    • The copyright symbol is not mentioned in the Canadian Copyright Act and is not mandatory for copyright protection in Canada.  It is a good idea to use the symbol to inform the world that the work is protected by copyright.
  10. MYTH:  To be protected outside of Canada, a copyright author/owner must register his works in each country where protection is sought.
    • Once an author is protected by copyright in Canada, the author is protected in the 168 countries that are members of the Berne Convention.

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