Copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the creator of an original work, such as a book, song, movie or computer program, exclusive rights in relation to that work. These rights include the rights to publish, distribute and adapt the work. The rights are for a certain time period, after which the work is said to enter the public domain.
The Canadian Copyright Act is an important marketplace framework law that aims to provide fair and predictable rules, in line with new technological developments and international standards. These rules should encourage the creation and distribution of new knowledge by creators, while facilitating access to this new knowledge by all Canadians.
The Copyright Act applies to all original literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, including computer programs, and gives the creator the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. Copyright law also protects performances and sound recordings.
Consultation on Copyright in the Age of Generative Artificial Intelligence
Given recent technological developments, most notably the rapid development of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT, the Government of Canada has launched a public consultation to re-engage Canadian citizens and stakeholders on important questions that were raised in 2021 during the Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.
This consultation ran from October 12, 2023, to January 15, 2024. It was launched as a part of the government's ongoing efforts to update and improve Canada's copyright framework. It focused on the impacts of recent developments in generative AI on the creative industries and consider whether any changes are required to appropriately balance copyright and technological development for an evolving Canadian economy. Feedback received will help inform the government's policy development process.
For more information, visit the Consultation on Copyright in the Age of Generative Artificial Intelligence page.
Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things
Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) are raising questions as to whether the copyright framework can adequately address new situations, including the use of copyrighted content to train and develop AI applications and the use of AI to create content. At the same time, the increase in the number of software-enabled products and the growth of the Internet of things (IoT) is introducing its own set of new challenges to copyright law. In particular, technological protection measures (TPMs) are hindering consumers' ability to repair certain software-enabled products equipped with TPMs. Also, some small and medium enterprises are encountering increasing difficulties in developing interoperable products, in part because of the presence of TPMs.
This consultation ran from July 15 to September 17, 2021 and is now closed. The Government thanks everyone who participated. Comments will help inform the Government's policy development process.
For more information visit the Consultation on a modern framework for artificial intelligence and the Internet of things webpage.
Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries
The dissemination and use of copyright-protected content on the Internet has expanded in recent years. Online intermediaries – the entities that facilitate access to such content – have also proliferated and diversified. In some cases, they now play more active roles in user activities involving copyright-protected content. These developments have increasingly brought into focus the liability and obligations of online intermediaries, which is an evolving area of law around the world. In Canada, questions have emerged regarding the extent to which the copyright framework for online intermediaries still achieves its underlying objectives, including protecting and encouraging the use of copyright-protected content online, safeguarding individual rights and freedoms in an open Internet and facilitating a flourishing digital market.
On April 14, 2021, the Government of Canada launched a public consultation to gather views from stakeholders and the Canadian public. The goal of this consultation is to help the Government ensure that Canada's copyright framework for online intermediaries reflects this evolving digital world. The Government welcomed all comments providing additional perspectives or evidence concerning these issues and potential options. This consultation closed on May 31, 2021.
For more information visit the Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries webpage.
Copyright term consultation
The Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement entered into force on July 1, 2020. Under the Agreement, Canada will extend its general term of copyright protection from 50 years after the life of the author to 70 years after the life of the author. In February 2021, a public consultation was launched to solicit views from stakeholders and the Canadian public. The consultation seeks input on whether the Government of Canada should adopt accompanying measures to address concerns over the potential implications of a longer general copyright term, and if so, what form such measures should take. This consultation ran from February 11, 2021 to March 31, 2021 and is now closed.
Notice and Notice
The goal of "Notice and Notice" is to discourage online copyright infringement. It is a mandatory regime set out in the Copyright Act that requires Internet intermediaries — such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – to forward on notices from copyright owners to Internet subscribers, alerting them that their Internet accounts have been linked to alleged infringing activities, such as the illegal downloading of movies.
Soon after the regime entered into force in January 2015, controversy arose over the practice of including settlement demands within notices. The practice could lead to abuses, given that consumers may be pressured into disclosing their personal information and making settlement payments even in situations where they have not engaged in any acts that violate copyright laws.
The Government of Canada has proposed reforms to clarify that a notice of claimed infringement that contains an offer to settle, or a request or demand for payment or for personal information, or a reference to any such offer, request or demand, in relation to the claimed infringement, does not comply with the regime.
Copyright Board Reform
The Government of Canada has proposed reforms to the Copyright Board that would clarify and streamline the framework in which the Board operates, namely, by codifying the Board's mandate, establishing decision-making criteria, modifying timelines, empowering case management, and modernizing the existing language and structure of the Copyright Act. The reforms would also allow more collective societies to enter into agreements directly with users, to ensure that the Board is only adjudicating matters when needed.
For further information, see:
- the Canadian Heritage section for the Copyright Policy Branch, and
- the websites of the Copyright Board of Canada and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
Copyright policy is the responsibility of the Copyright and Trade-mark Policy Directorate, which is part of the Marketplace Framework Policy Branch.