Starting a Business in Canada

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Sep 27, 2011 - 2 minute read - legal

Copyrights In Canada

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office defines a copyright as:

Copyright is the exclusive right to copy a creative work or allow someone else to do so.

Copyright applies to all original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. These include:

  • books and other writings
  • music
  • sculptures
  • paintings
  • photographs
  • films
  • plays
  • television and radio program
  • sound recordings, such as records, cassettes or compact discs
  • performer’s performances
  • communication signals
  • computer programs

Copyright doesn’t apply to:

  • facts
  • themes
  • ideas
  • most titles
  • names
  • catch-phrases and other short-word combinations

It’s not necessary to register a copyright because a copyright automatically exists when the work is created. However, having a registered copyright is a signal to others that you own the copyright to the work. It can also make it easier for a company to find you if they want to license your work.

Generally speaking, copyrights last for the life of the author plus 50 years following death. There may be some exceptions in specific situations.

The copyright holder is responsible for enforcing his or her rights under the Copyright Act. This has important business implications for the copyright holder. If a multi-national corporation infringes on your copyright, it is your responsibility to take them to court to enforce your rights. This can be prohibitive for artists and entrepreneurs that don’t have the money to support this kind of court action. It’s something to consider when assessing the strength of your copyright protection.

For more information, you can download the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s A Guide To Copyrights.