How To Be Protected by Canadian Copyright Law
Disclaimer: although this article is written by a licensed Canadian Business Lawyer, do not take this as official legal advice for your specific case. Law is complicated because a tiny exception can reject an entire regulatory regime.
Copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, R.S.C., 1985, c C-42, which is a federal Canadian statute. When you are protected by Copyright, you are the only person legally capable of reproducing the object that is subject to Copyright protection. You are entitled to this right for your entire life plus 50 years after the year in which you die.
You do not need to register a copyright to be protected under Canadian Copyright Law. The law applies the moment the work is created. However, if you do prefer to register your copyright, you can do so at the Copyright Office under the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in Gatineau, Quebec. You can find the address here. Once registered, you will receive a certificate of registration of copyright, which is evidence that a copyright exists and that the person registered is the owner of the copyright.
How do you show others and the general public that material is protected by Canadian copyright law if you are not officially registered? You can use the symbol © and mark the material with the name of the copyright owner and the year of publication next to the material, even if you did not register your copyright with the Copyright Office. Alternatively, you can simply write the word “Copyright” instead of the symbol. For example, if you look at the bottom right of my website, you will find the words “Copyright 2021, Rana Charif (etc) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED”. That is one way to mark Copyright. You can also use an abbreviation like “Copr.”, however, I do not recommend that for the reason cited below. Marking copyright is not mandatory under the Law, but it is a practical way of giving notice of your intellectual property ownership to the general public. Why is notice important? When someone infringes on your copyright, they could easily use the defense of not knowing that the material was protected, which makes them an “innocent infringer” and causes lesser penalties ultimately. Marking the material with a clear visible symbol, prevents that.
How far (geographically) does your right apply? Pretty far. There are international agreements between countries that promised to protect copyrights from other signatories of these agreements as if the material originated from their own countries. These agreements are the Berne Convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty (there are about 193 countries and you can check the subscribed countries here).
If someone copies, performs, sells, distributes or posts your work on the internet without your permission, read our next article to find out what you can do.