Copyright law in Canada has traditionally protected original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. These categories include films and computer programs. Copyright in such works means, with respect to the work or any substantial part thereof, the sole right to produce or reproduce, perform or communicate to the public by telecommunication and includes other more specialized rights in certain cases, such as a rental right, the right to convert a dramatic work into a novel, the right to adapt a literary work as a film, etc. Canadian copyright law also provides “neighbouring rights” in “other subject matter,” namely sound recordings, performers’ performances and communications signals. These rights are somewhat more limited than those provided for the traditional categories of works.
Copyright protection for traditional works generally has a duration of the life of the author plus fifty years. For sound recordings, the term of protection is 70 years from publication.
Canadian copyright law also provides moral rights, which include the right to be associated with a work as an author where reasonable in the circumstances and the right to the integrity of a work or a performer’s performance in order to prevent distortion or mutilation to the prejudice of an author’s or performers’ reputation. Moral rights cannot be assigned. However, they may be waived.
Copyright protection arises automatically in Canada and 172 other Berne Convention countries upon the creation and fixation of an original work or other subject matter. However, registration with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the Library of Congress Copyright Office is recommended in the case of commercially important works or in circumstances where litigation may be contemplated. Copyright rights can be enforced in Canadian courts and are often administered collectively, subject to the jurisdiction of the Copyright Board.
Copyright law also includes “users’ rights” of fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire as well as criticism or review, news reporting and various other more specific exceptions provided in the legislation.