Canada's Copyright Act (the Act) currently provides a general term of copyright protection for works of authorship that is calculated based on the life of a natural person. This "general term" lasts for the lifetime of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of that calendar year (commonly referred to as "life-plus 50"). The range of works subject to the general term of protection is broad and includes books, newspapers, musical compositions, movies and TV shows, paintings, photographs, and computer programs.
Under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which entered into force on July 1, 2020, Canada committed to extend its general term from 50 years after the life of the author to 70 years after the life of the author. Canada has a transition period that lasts until December 31, 2022 to implement this change.
A longer general term of protection will increase opportunities for Canadian rights holders to monetize copyright-protected content, thereby encouraging investment in the creation, acquisition and commercialization of such works. It will also harmonize Canada's general term with that of our major trading partners, allowing Canadian rights holders to compete internationally on a levelled playing field. While term extension is expected to bring benefits, user stakeholders have raised concerns that it may have negative consequences, particularly in the form of reduced access to works.
In order to meet Canada's CUSMA commitment to extend the general term of protection by the end of 2022, and take into account diverse stakeholder perspectives, on February 11, 2021 the Government launched a public consultation on how to implement copyright term extension. This consultation will solicit views on whether accompanying measures should be adopted to address potential implications of term extension — and if so, what form such measures should take.
This consultation ran from February 11, 2021 to March 31, 2021 and is now closed. The consultation paper is available online and a PDF version is available as well.