What copyright is

Important change

Please be advised, as of , the general term of copyright protection in Canada changes from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author. This change does not affect works that are already in the public domain. For more information, please see the amendments to the Copyright Act from June 2022.

If you produce original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, you'll want to learn more about what copyright is and how you can use it to your advantage.

Copyright is the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work. The creator is usually the copyright owner. However, an employer—for example, a film studio—may have copyright in works created by employees unless there is an agreement in place stating otherwise.

What is a copyright in Canada? - HTML5 Transcript

(Government of Canada signature and "Canada" wordmark)

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On-screen text:

Copyright can be a valuable business asset.

So What is copyright in Canada?

(Multiple images items come together to shape the map of Canada: microphone, headphones, MP3 player, photo camera, video game controller, music notes, etc.)

Copyright is the exclusive, legal right to produce, reproduce, sell or license, publish or perform an original work or a substantial part of it.

When others want to copy or use the work they generally need to ask for permission and/or provide payment.

Copyright works include: literary such as Books

(Five pairs of hands holding books appear)

(A tablet appears)

Web pages

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Software coding

(Camera with a flash)


(Transition to three spray paint cans and transition to a tube of paint with paint squeezed out)

(Director's chair and movie/TV clapboard)


(Director's chair is crushed by a dot that transforms into a music note)


(Music note transitions into a music sheet)


(Sound system appears)

Sound recordings

(Communication tower)

Communication signals

(Performers on stage)

Performers' performances

When does copyright protection begin?

(A sheet with the title: My creation, slides on a desk. Hand starts signing the sheet)

An original work is automatically protected the moment you create it

(A logo appears on the sheet that represents figuratively a copyright)

And, as the copyright owner, you have exclusive rights to use it.

You can register your original work with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

(On a screen of a computer)

Learn more about copyright and copyright registration

(The text on the screen of the computer flips to:)

Visit Canada.ca/copyright

A certificate of registration of copyright is more evidence that the person registered is the owner.

Generally, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author of the work, plus (numbers flip rapidly up to 50) 50 years after his death. After that, the work is in the public domain, and anyone can use it.

This is the copyright symbol: ©.

(A hand stamps a circled capital letter "C")

(A sheet appears with an example of a copyright notice: © John Smith 2016)

It can be used whether the copyright is registered or not.

(© John Smith 2016)

Using the symbol is not mandatory, but is a useful reminder to others that the work is legally protected

Learn more about copyright and copyright registration

Visit Canada.ca/copyright

(Canada Wordmark symbol and music stops)


Copyright protects your creation

When you own the copyright in a work, you control how it is used in order to protect its value. Others who want to use the work have to buy or otherwise get your permission.

Generally, an original work is automatically protected by copyright the moment you create it. By registering your copyright, you receive a certificate issued by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office that can be used in court as evidence that you own it.

Your copyright exists in Canada during your lifetime and for 70 years following your death. After that, the work is in the public domain, and anyone can use it. This is true for most works, but there are exceptions.

Find more information on how and why to register in A Guide to Copyright.