Copyright is a form of legal protection given to creators of original works, such as literature, music, software, and art. In Canada, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, which sets out the rules for who can use and reproduce protected works. The following are some of the key factors that determine whether a work is protected by copyright:
To be protected by copyright, a work must be original. This means that it must be the result of the creator’s own skill and judgment, rather than being a copy of someone else’s work. However, the level of originality required is relatively low and does not have to be novel or unique.
Copyright protection only applies to works that are fixed, meaning that they are recorded or stored in a tangible form. For example, a live performance is not protected by copyright until it is recorded and fixed in a tangible form, such as a DVD or a video recording.
Copyright protection applies to a wide range of works, including literary works (such as books, articles, and software), dramatic works (such as plays and screenplays), musical works (such as compositions and recordings), and artistic works (such as paintings, sculptures, and photographs).
In order for a work to be protected by copyright, it must be associated with a creator. The creator does not have to be the author of the work, but must be the person who exercised control over the creation of the work. For example, a company that commissions a work may be the owner of the copyright if it can be shown that the company had the right to control the creation of the work.
Publication is not necessary for a work to be protected by copyright, but it can affect the duration of copyright protection. In Canada, the copyright in an unpublished work lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years. For published works, the copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published.