Canadian copyright law

Canadian copyright law

Canadian copyright law is the area of law that defines copyright within Canada. As copyright is said to exist only in statute, most rights are derived from the Copyright Act. All powers to legislate copyright law are in the jurisdiction of the federal government by virtue of section 91(23) of the Constitution Act 1867.

ources of law

Like most other common law countries there are no inherent rights to works, performances, or sound recording at the common lawhuh? |does this mean "in" or "within". Copyright exists solely in statute. According to section 91(23) of the Constitution Act, 1867 the federal government is granted exclusive power to enact laws related to copyright. The evolution of copyright in Canada has been guided by international treaties signed by Canada that try to unify copyright laws across the globe.

Canada is a party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 1886 and has signed but not yet ratified both the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996 and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996

Subsistencehuh? |this is a jargon word of copyright

Copyright is meant to protect the expression of ideas but never ideas in themselves.


The Act provides protection for all "original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic" works. Close attention has been paid to the use of the word "original". It has been well established that the foremost requirement for the subsistence of copyright is that the work be original.

The CCH Canadian case re-evaluated the meaning of "original" and found that for a work to be original it must be the result of the exercise of "skill and judgement". More specifically: skill, meaning the "use of one's knowledge, developed aptitiude or pracised ability in producing work", and judgement, meaning the "use of one's capacity for discernment or ability to form an opinion or evaluation by comparing different possible options in producing the work". Nevertheless, originality does not require any novelty or creativity. But it does require intellectual effort beyond mere mechanical exercise.

The determination of originality on the basis presented in CCH Canadian depends on the facts. For a large part, it depends on degree to which the work originated from the author. Many factors are considered, The medium or form used is significant. Whether it comprises elements that are in the public domain or not, whether it the ordering of data or facts, or whether the form is pedestrial or novel. Mere selection is generally not enough. As well, it is significant to consider whether there are any artistic elements to it.


Copyright provides the protection of expression of ideas. This entails that there must be a form, or "fixation", to the expression. It is fixation that distinguishes an expression from an idea.

In "Canadian Admiral Corp. v. Rediffusion", the court considered fixation: "for copyright to exists in a 'work' it must be expressed to some extent at least in some material form, capable of identification and having a more or less permanent endurance." [emphasis added] In this case, the court found that there was insufficient fixation in the live broadcast of a sports event. Any sort of broadcast, telecast, or display of a spectacle on its own is not sufficient to be fixed. At the least, it must be simultaneously recorded in some fashion to be fixed.

To the possible exception of choreographed works, there is a requirement that the work be recorded in a relatively permanent form. Typing a note into a computer screen may be sufficiently permanent. Some cases have shown that unstructured speech or other spontaneous or improvised creations, such as a sports game, cannot contain copyright.


Both facts and ideas are by their very nature uncopyrightable. This will often create difficulties when it becomes necessary to separate the idea from the expression as well as in the separation of fact from the arranging and use of those facts. Where the distinction between idea and expression becomes obscured the Courts often take a precautionary view that it cannot be copyrighted so as to avoid preventing others from expressing the same idea.

Minor designs that are largely ornamental or functional are excluded as well. For example, coloured blocks used as tools in an educational program are excluded.


The copyright of an artist's work is owned directly by the artist in most cases with the exception of "engravings", "photographs", "portraits", and works created in the course of employment. Furthermore, these rights can be alienated through assignment and licenses.

An artist's moral rights, however, are inalienable and stay with the artist their entire lives. As with copyrights, moral rights are inheritable.

Government works

Section 12 of the Copyright Act reserves copyright for all works produced by the government for a period of 50 years following the end of the calendar year when the work has been performed, unlike the United States, where the government does not hold copyright. In addition, the Copyright Act applies to government works, but "without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Crown". The exact extent of these reserved rights are not clear, see [ [ Vaver commentary on copyright and the state in Canada and USA] ] for more on this.

Music Recordings

The music industry created a loophole in Canadian copyright laws when it asked for a levy on blank audio media. These $0.21 to $0.24 levies on blank media raised millions of dollars for music publishers, but also legalized copying in the digital age, to the consternation of the music industry. [ [ CRIA about-face on iPod levies tied to concerns over legitimizing downloads ] ] Canadian courts have ruled that consumers have the right to copy "any" recording from the original copy even those they do not personally own. This consumer right has been extended by the courts to include peer-to-peer downloads. [ [ Canada deems P2P downloading legal - CNET ] ]


According to s. 6 of the Act the copyright of a work lasts the life of the author plus 50 years from the end of the calendar year of death. []

For joint authors, the copyright of a work lasts the life of the author who dies last, plus 50 years from the end of the calendar year of that death. []

Unknown or Anonymous Authors

Where the identity of the author is unknown (if the author is anonymous or pseudonymous) then the copyright lasts for either 50 years from the publication of the work or 75 years from the making of the work, whichever is shorter. [] However, if author’s identity becomes commonly known during this time, the term provided in section 6 applies. There are separate provisions for joint authors whose identities are unknown [] , and posthumous works. []


There is a separate provision for the copyright of photographs. According to s. 10 [] of the Act, the author of the photograph (and hence owner of the copyright) is the person or corporation who was either 1) the owner of the initial negative or other plate at the time when that negative or other plate was made, or 2) was the owner of the initial photograph at the time when that photograph was made, where there was no negative or other plate. In contemporary terms, this means that the author of a photograph is usually the person who owns the film in the film camera, or whoever owns the digital camera.

Where the author is a person or a corporation whose majority shareholder is the photographer, s. 6 applies, and the term of copyright for the photograph is the life of the author plus 50 years from end of the calendar year of death.

Where the author is a corporation, the term of copyright for the photograph is the making of the initial negative or initial photograph, plus 50 years.

Why it exists

Copyright, generally, protects against production and reproduction of a work. Infringement is judged by the interpretation of the language of the type of work and the means of reproduction.

Moral rights protect the "integrity" of the work, and the right to be "associated" with the work. Infringement of moral rights happens when the work is "distorted, mutilated or otherwise modified ... to the prejudice of the artist".

In defense to infringement, there are rights to Fair dealing, which in Canada are limited to research or private study, criticism or review, or news reporting.

WIPO-related legislation

Bill C-60

Introduced by David Emerson and Liza Frulla in 2005. It died on the table due to the November 28, 2005 motion of no confidence.

Bill C-61

In 2008, Bill C-61 was proposed by Industry Minister Jim Prentice to improve compliance with WIPO treaties. It was heavily criticized and praised by conflicting sides, of being too harsh and setting up "police states", to being needed copyright reform. [ [ | Canada | Troubling details in new downloading law ] ] The bill died on the table due to the September 7th, 2008 election call. []


External links

* [ Copyright Act, full text]
* [ Canadian Intellectual Property Office - Copyright]
* [ In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law]
* [ Digital Copyright Canada forum]
* [ summary article]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Originality in Canadian copyright law — In order for copyright protection to be extended to a work, the work must be original. While originality is a requirement for copyright around the world, there is no coherent definition of what it means for a work to be original. In Canada,… …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian contract law — has its foundation in the English legal tradition of the 19th and early 20th century. It remains largely rooted in the old English common law and equity. Individual provinces have codified many of the principles in a Sale of Goods Act, which was… …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian patent law — is the legal system regulating the grant of patents on inventions within Canada. Patents are in the sole jurisdiction of the federal government and is governed by the federal Patent Act . A patent is a government grant that gives the inventor and …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian property law — Property law in Canada is the body of law concerning the rights of individuals over land, objects, and expression within Canada. It encompasses personal property, real property, and intellectual property.Personal property laws are typically… …   Wikipedia

  • Copyright law of Canada — Intellectual property law Primary rights Copyright · authors rights  …   Wikipedia

  • Copyright infringement; substantial part in copyright law in Canada — Section 27. (1) of the Copyright Act[1] reads as follows: It is an infringement of copyright for any person to do, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, anything that by this Act only the owner of the copyright has the right to do.… …   Wikipedia

  • Defences in copyright law in Canada — Canadian Copyright Act provides a monopoly right to the owners of the copyrighted work. This implies that any person without the authorization or consent from the copyrighted owner cannot use his work. But some provisions in the Act, defends the… …   Wikipedia

  • Moral rights in copyright law in Canada — are protected under the Copyright Act of Canada and include an author’s right to attribution, integrity and association of a work. Moral rights are to be distinguished from economic rights; moral rights essentially being derived from the… …   Wikipedia

  • Copyright Act of Canada — is Canada s federal statute governing copyright law in Canada. The Copyright Act of Canada which was first passed in 1921 and substantially amended in 1988 and 1997. In 2005 an attempt to amend the Canadian Copyright Act was made but Bill C 60… …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian Admiral Corp. v. Rediffusion Inc. — Canadian Admiral Corporation Ltd. v. Rediffusion Inc. , [1954] Ex. CR 382, 20 CPR 75 is a Canadian copyright law decision by the Exchequer Court (a predecessor of the Federal Court of Canada). The Court held that rebroadcasting of public… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.