Copyright law allows a creator, and anyone they grant authorization to, the legal right to copy/duplicate a work of art during the protection period. At the end of the protection period, the work of art becomes a part of the public domain and any member of the public may use it. This is the basics of copyright law. While copyright appears to be a relatively straightforward protection, it can be easily misunderstood. Unfortunately, copyright protection is also surrounded by myths that create confusion and can cause problems for even well intentioned people.
Myth #1: Canadian Copyright Law Protects Ideas
The copyright law under the Canadian system does not protect ideas, news, history and facts. Copyright protects the expression of these ideas but not the ideas themselves. This means you can use any set of ideas, facts, news from a book, or an article in the form of its summary. And this does not require you to get any copyright permission. A great example of this can be found in an opinion by the courts in Bouchard v. Ikea Canada. Bouchard made a business out of turning children's drawings into plush toys and sued Ikea for copyright infringement as Ikea held a contest where some children's drawings were turned into plush toys. Since none of the plush toys created by Ikea looked like any of the plush toys created by Bouchard, the courts sided with Ikea and confirmed that it is the actual work of art, not the idea behind it that is protected by copyright.
Myth #2: Using Copyright Symbol Is Mandatory to Have Copyright Protection in Canada ©
Original works of art automatically receive protection under Canadian copyright laws. As soon as an original piece of work is created and put on paper, saved on your computer, musically notated, carved - it receives instant copyright protection. There is no requirement to register, add the symbol or deposit a copy of it with the Copyright office in Canada. In fact, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office does not require a copy of the work of art when filing for a registration certificate.
Myth #3: Employers Become the Authors of the Work Created by Their Employees
In some cases, an employer will become the owner of the copyright associated with an original piece of work when it is created by an employee. However, the employee who created the work remains the author of the work. The duration for which the work is protected is determined by the life span of the author (the employee in this case) and not the employer. Additionally, the employee retains the moral rights to the work despite the employer being the owner of the copyright.
Myth #4: A Copyright Needs to Be Registered by the Author/owner in Each Country to Seek Copyright Protection Out of Canada
The Berne Convention has 179 member countries, including Canada, which allows automatic protection in these countries. So, once an original work is protected under the Canadian Copyright law, its validity automatically becomes applicable in countries members of the Berne Convention. Hence, there is no requirement of registering work for protection outside Canada.
Myth #5:The work belonging to the Canadian government is not protected by Copyright
The works belonging to the Canadian government are protected by Crown Copyright. Recent changes to the law allow the non-commercial use of crown copyright without the requirement of seeking permission.
Now that we have successfully busted some of the common myths attached to the Canadian Copyright laws, you can march ahead confidently.
Copyright laws can be complex and, at times, difficult to understand. A lawyer can assist you in safeguarding your intellectual property.
If you have any questions about Copyright laws and processes, send us a message or reach out to our team.