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Information About Copyrights in Canada

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To Whom Does This Apply?
We are surrounded by copyrights. Anyone writing books, creating plays, performing, recording or just conducting business in the marketplace (restaurant menus, instruction manuals and Web sites) should consider registering their copyright. Potential and current applicants may want to file a new application or pay a fee.

What is a copyright?
Simply put, a copyright prohibits others from copying your work without your permission. Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work such as books, plays, songs, paintings, safety instructions, Web pages, how-to manuals and a prospectus are all copyrighted. Copyright also applies to three other kinds of subject-matter: performer's performances (actors, musicians, dancers and singers), communication signals (broadcasts) and sound recordings (records, cassettes, and compact discs).
Copyright law has become increasingly more complex due to the various forms of media and there are a number of rights under the Act that provide protection from unauthorized use and copying. For example, copyright in an original work also includes the sole right to produce translations, convert a dramatic work into a novel and vice versa, make a sound recording of a literary, dramatic or musical work etc. Copyright in other subject-matter includes additional rights such as in the case of a sound recording to publish, to reproduce and to rent out the sound recording.

The copyright protection begins when the work is created and ends at a legally defined point in time. These points in time are set out in rules in the Copyright Act. There is one general rule and many special rules that apply to certain kinds of works. The general rule is that copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of the calendar year. The special rules apply to certain other works such as photographs, certain cinematographic works, sound recordings, performer's performances, communication signals, works of crown copyright and more. These are described in the Guide to Copyrights under Duration.
There are international agreements that provide foreign copyright owners with copyright privileges in Canada and similarly Canadians enjoy copyright privileges in many other countries.

Copyright Act
The Copyright Act governs all aspects of copyright in Canada. This includes the right to copy a work, the right to perform, translate or adapt it and the right to communicate the work to the public by telecommunication. The Act defines "protected" uses (for which the author's permission is needed) and uses that do not constitute an infringement of copyright, and for which no permission is needed.

Generally, the owner of the copyright is the creator or author of the work and ownership can be inherited. If you create a work in the course of employment, the copyright belongs to your employer unless there is an agreement to the contrary. The rights to a copyright may be licensed from the owner or royalty payments may be paid through performing rights societies, collectives, publishing houses or by the owners directly.
Collectives, legally termed "licensing bodies", grant permission and give terms for use of works in their repertoires on behalf of their membership and members of foreign affiliated rights societies. There are collectives for such rights as: audio-visual and multi media, educational, literary, media monitoring, music, private copying, re-transmission, and visual arts.
The Copyright Board, a public tribunal established under the Copyright Act , annually reviews and approves all tariffs proposed by collectives.
Moral rights are always held by the author of a work regardless of who owns the copyright. Moral rights protect the honour and reputation of the author.

Why file?
No one is obliged to file, but it can be a useful proof of ownership. Once registered the certificate is evidence that your work is protected by copyright, and may make an important difference in case of a legal dispute.

Getting Started
You must identify your intellectual property (IP) and make sure it can be protected under the Copyright Act. The publication Stand out from your competitors provides a valuable introduction to IP and is a great starting point. The Guide to Copyrights is a more in-depth source of information.

Filing an application
Applications may be filed online, by mail or by fax.

How your Copyright application is processed
Copyright applications are processed upon receipt. Review process takes 3-4 weeks.

Your application is considered complete when all the information is received and the fees are paid pursuant to the Copyright Act and Regulations. Applications are kept in the order received, files are created and assigned numbers whereupon they are forwarded to the copyright reviewer.

A copyright reviewer checks the application to ensure that the information provided by the applicant is clear and accurate. If there are any questions, the reviewer will send a report to the applicant or their agent requesting clarification. Some corrections may be made by telephone.

The copyright reviewer assigns a registration number by entering the information provided by the applicant in the automated register, prints the certificate, carries out a final quality control check and sends it to the client.

Correcting certificate
At the client's request, a certificate of correction will be issued should a clerical error appear on an original registration certificate.

Filing a licence, assignment or other document
Upon receipt of the original document or a certified true copy of the document to be registered, the Copyright Office staff verifies the authenticity of the documents, enters the information in the computer and issues a file number.

The Tariff was amended January 1, 2004 and the current filing fee is $50.

We make it easy to register your Copyright. For a fee starting from only $50 (plus tax and government fees), we will prepare and submit all required documents to the appropriate agency for registration. The process usually takes 4-6 weeks. Once you receive your Copyright registration you will know that your work is protected.

Order your registration here

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