In Canada, copyright law is governed by the Copyright Act (Canada) (the “Act”). Copyright protects original works such as artistic, musical, literary or dramatic works. Some of the works which are entitled to copyright protection are songs, books, computer hardware, paintings, photographs, and others. In general, the creator of the original work should obtain copyright protection in order to secure ownership of the work and have the exclusive right to reproduce the work. Although registration is not a legal requirement for copyright to exist, there are many important advantages of copyright registration.
This article outlines the general process of obtaining copyright protection and the associated benefits of applying for it.
Copyright is an exclusive right granted to the creator of the original work and allows the creator a right to publish, copy, and distribute the work, or a part of it, in any form. Regardless of the work’s merit or commercial value, Canadian law recommends creators and authors of all original work to obtain copyright.
Benefits of Obtaining Copyright
Copyright exists automatically when the original work is created, however copyright registration gives the owner or the creator of the original work the assurance of ownership, which can be used in court.
Copyright is a right to intellectual property and gives the owner the exclusive right in relation with the use of the property. Copyright establishes a public record of your copyright. Without registration someone else may claim your work as their own. Registration of copyright, therefore, is a prerequisite for a copyright infringement lawsuit. Certificate of registration serves as prima facie evidence that the work is original and is owned by the registrant of the copyrighted work.
Process of Obtaining Copyright Protection
There are three key requirements for copyright to be recognized in Canada. First, the work must be original and not a copy itself. Second, the work must be expressed in material form because copyright does not protect “ideas”. Therefore, the work must be expressed in a form that is recognizable. Third, the creator of the work must be a Canadian citizen or resident at the time the work was created, or a citizen of a foreign country that is a member of multinational or binational agreements to which Canada is also a member. These include the Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, the Rome Convention, or a citizen of a Word Trade Organization (WTO) member country.
A copyright registration application is available on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website, or from a regional Industry Canada office. The registration process when the application is filed by regular mail normally takes one to three weeks. The fee covers review of your application, registration and your official certificate.
Copyright lasts throughout the duration of the lifetime of an author, until the end of the calendar year in which the author dies, and fifty (50) years after the author’s death. After that, the work becomes public domain.
It is important for the owner of the work to monitor the use of the work by others because the Copyright Office does not prevent others from infringing the rights.
Importantly, different artistic works have special copyright requirements and ensure different protections. It is the responsibility of the creator of the work to verify the specific protection associated with his or her work.
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