Know Your (Copy)Rights

If you’re a musician or artist in Canada, how familiar are you with your copyright laws? There’s a new book to help you discern fact from fiction and help you protect yourself and your work.

In Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition, author Lesley Ellen Harris sheds some light and dispels some myths on this area of law.

Here, a list of 10 myths Harris wants to put right:

  1. Ideas are protected under Canadian Copyright law. — Harris notes that it’s the expression of ideas, facts, history and news that are protected by copyright, not ideas themselves.
  2. Copyright protections last 50 years past the life of the creator. —That might be the international norm for copyright, but “Canada has now extended the protection copyright in performances and sound recordings to 70 years after the release date of the sound recording,” Harris notes. This falls in line with the parameters established by the European Union and United states.
  3. The Canadian Copyight Act is a living document that has been remodeled after pass of the 1924, despite being amended a bit. —“Current Canadian government initiatives have been to amend the Ac rather than overhaul it and replace it with an entirely new Act. Most current major amendments from the 1924 Act are in B11 C-11 , the Copyright Modernization Act,” which went into effect on Jun 29, 2012, Harris says.
  4. A work must be registered with the Canadian Copyright Office in order to be protected. —Works are protected upon creation but may be registered in the Copyright Office. Registration does confer some benefits should the creator ever enforce his or her rights, but registration is not mandatory.
  5. Canada isn’t a signatory to the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty on copyright protection. — Canada has joined the WIPO, in 1928 upon its creation, and the two WIPO digital and internet treaties, the last of which was created in 2014.
  6. Fair use is a legal concept in Canada. — Fair use, a concept which permits limited use of a copyrighted work without having to secure permission from its creator or rights holder, exists ONLY in the United States. Canada has the Canadian Copyright Act, which contains the principle of fair dealing.
  7. Works created by the Canadian government are not protected under copyright laws. — Canadian government works are protected by copyright, but “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 produce,” according to the law.
  8. Works created by an employee as part of their job are copyrighted by their employers. —While the works themselves do belong to the employer, the creator of the work remains the author, meaning the author or creator of the work solely retains copyright ownership for the duration of his or her life.
  9. The use of the © symbol is required for a work to be protected. —Nowhere in the Canadian Copyright Act is the copyright symbol mentioned, nor is it mandatory for protection in Canada. However, “it is a good idea to use the symbol to inform the world that the work is protected by copyright,” Harris says.
  10. For protection outside of Canada, a copyright holder must register his or her works in each country where protection is desired. — As Canada has signed on to the WIPO treaty, the author’s works are protected and recognized not just in Canada but all 168 countries that abide by the treaty.

Harris also provides a blog and email blast with information on US and Canadian copyright issues. Her new book can be ordered here.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.