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Copyright Basics->

Copyright is a legal framework that protects creators of literary and artistic works by establishing economic and moral rights that enable creators to:

  • control the publication and reproduction of their works;
  • receive remuneration; and
  • protect the integrity of their works.

Copyright protection exists as soon as a work is created.  In Canada, there is no requirement that the work be registered or that the word “copyright” or the symbol © appear on the work.  The work may be registered, if the creator desires, under a voluntary government registration system.  Other countries may require registration and/or designations to be placed on the work to activate copyright protection.

The Copyright Act regulates the rights of creators and users of copyright in Canada.

What is Protected by Copyright?

Copyright law protects a wide range of works, including, for example, books, articles in journals or newspapers, films, videos, plays, scripts, paintings, drawings, maps, technical drawings, sculptures, computer programs, and songs. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

Copyright law does not protect ideas, facts, news, information, names, or symbols. Only works that are original and fixed are protected by copyright. A work is considered “original” when it is the product of the author’s own skill, judgment and creativity, has not been copied and demonstrates more than a trivial, mechanical level of skill and judgment. A work is “fixed” when it is produced onto any media, like paper or within a digital file.

You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in those works. However, the idea itself is not protected by copyright.

Names and symbols may, of course, be protected in some ways by trademark law. For further information about each of these categories, see the contact information provided on the Online Resources page.