Canadian copyright law is governed by the Copyright Act, which
protects original literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works. A
partial list of works which are entitled to copyright protection
in Canada includes: books, newspapers, dictionaries, manuals,
catalogues, magazines, pamphlets, computer software, paintings,
drawings, design trade-marks, sculptures, architectural works,
engravings, dramatic works, photographs, films, videos, scripts, maps,
lyrics and musical works.
One very significant right granted to the owner of Canadian copyright
in a work, is the exclusive right to reproduce the work, (or any
substantial part of the work) in any material form whatever.
For example, the owner of copyright in a book has the right to stop
others from making copies of the book, (or any substantial part of the
book), whether the copying is by way of a commercial printer, a
photocopy machine, or by way of a computer image/text scanner.
In addition to acquiring the exclusive right to copy the work, the
owner of copyright in a work also receives an entire "bundle" of rights,
some of which are specific to the type of work in question. For example,
in the case of a dramatic work, copyright includes the right to convert
the dramatic work into a novel. In the case of computer software, it
includes the right to rent the software to others. Each different type
of work has its own bundle of copyrights.
Copyright comes into existence automatically, at the time the work
was created, and, in the case of most works, it continues until the end
of the calendar year in which the author of the work dies
(regardless of whether the author has sold or assigned the copyright in
the work or not), and continues for an additional period of 50 years.
There are some notable exceptions to this rule however. One such
exception relates to photographs, which are protected by copyright from
the time the photograph was taken, up until the end of the calendar year
in which the photograph was taken , and for an additional period
of 50 years (that is, the termination date of copyright protection for
photographs is linked to the date the photograph was taken, and not the
date of the photographer's death).
"Moral" rights are also protected under Canadian copyright law. Moral
rights include the author's right to be associated with the work by
name, or pseudonym and the right to remain anonymous, and include the
author's right to the integrity of the work (that is, the author's right
to stop the work from being distorted, mutilated or modified, to the
prejudice of the author's honour or reputation, or from being used in
association with a product, service, cause or institution).
Moral rights remain with the author of a work, even where the
work, or the copyright in the work, has been sold or assigned. Moral
rights continue to exist in a work for the same length of time as do the
other copyrights in the work in question.
Copyright in a work may be assigned or licensed to others. All
assignments and licenses of copyright must be in writing to be
valid. The mere transfer of physical possession of a work does not
thereby include an assignment of copyright in the work.
While moral rights may not be assigned, these rights may be waived by
the author, in whole, or in part. A mere assignment or license of
copyright in a work does not, in and of itself, amount to a
waiver of moral rights in the work. It is therefore recommended that,
where possible, all assignments and licenses of copyright include a
written waiver of the author's moral rights.
Each work in which copyright subsists should be marked with a notice
in the following form: "© Smith and Company, 1996". That is, the notice
should display the copyright symbol ©, followed by the name of the owner
of copyright, followed by the year in which the work was published. This
notice is to be displayed in such manner and location as to give
reasonable notice of a claim of copyright in the work.
Copyright may be registered in Canada at the Canadian Copyright
Office located in Ottawa/Hull. While registration of copyright in a work
is not required in Canada, registration does provide benefits to
the copyright owner, and is recommended.
When registering copyright in Canada, there is no need to file a copy
of the work with the Canadian Copyright Office (in fact, the Canadian
Copyright Office will return any works which anyone attempts to file
with them!). It is therefore possible to obtain a copyright registration
in Canada without having to disclose any of the confidential information
which may be contained in the work (although you will have to
disclose the work's