Everything You Need to Know About Copyrights in Canada

Everything You Need to Know About Copyrights in Canada

Canadian law protects all original creative works, regardless of their merit or financial worth, as long as the Copyright Act's requirements are satisfied. This means that you have copyright protection if you hold the copyright to a poem, song, or other creative work.

But what is a copyright, and what does it imply for your work if you have one? Continue reading to find out.

How Does a Copyright Work?

If you create unique literary, theatrical, musical, or creative work, you should understand more about copyright and how to make use of it. Copyright is the legal right to produce, reproduce, publish, or perform an original literary, artistic, theatrical, or musical work. The creator generally owns the copyright. However, unless there is a written agreement to the contrary, an employer—for example, a film studio—may have copyright in works made by workers.

Why Should You Apply for One?

When you register your copyright with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), you'll get a registration certificate, which serves as legal proof of ownership. This creates a rebuttable presumption that the copyrighted work is copyrighted and that the owner of the work is the copyright registrant. In copyrighted works litigation, having a rebuttable presumption is advantageous.

How Long Does a Copyright Last?

Copyright legislation's main objective is to ensure that creators are appropriately paid for their efforts. In Canada, copyright usually lasts for the author's lifetime plus 50 years (i.e., the "life plus 50" rule). On the other hand, copyright in the United States and Europe typically lasts for the author's lifetime plus 70 years, but this can vary based on circumstances such as the type of work, the method of publishing, and the date of creation. For copyright protection, the use of a work in Canada is controlled by Canadian laws.

When a work's copyright expires, it enters the public domain, allowing it to be freely reproduced and distributed. Do not assume, however, that works are in the public domain.

The Application Process

To register your copyright, you must apply to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), the government body in charge of the administration and processing of intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright registration.

You can submit your copyright registration application to CIPO electronically, via mail, or by fax. A $50 (CAD) cost is charged for applications submitted electronically, while a $65 fee is charged for applications submitted by mail or fax (CAD). In most cases, copyright registration may be achieved in a matter of weeks.

How to Respond to a Copyright Infringement

According to the Copyright Act, copyright infringement happens when someone unjustly utilizes your work without your permission or does something that only an owner is permitted to do. Examples of acts of infringement may include copying, performing, selling/distributing, or putting your work on the internet without your permission. The Copyright Office does not provide legal advice on whether or not particular conduct is infringing. Any such difficulties should be handled with the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law.


This article only scratches the surface of copyrights in Canada and their ramifications for your work. When it comes to intellectual property, a legal advisor can handle the majority of your problems.

Get in touch with us to learn more.

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