Canada Extends Duration of Copyright in Sound Recordings

Extension of copyright duration in CanadaCanada has now extended the protection of copyright in performances and sound recordings to 70 years after the release date of the sound recording. This new term is effective 23 June 2015. So pencil in on page 132 of Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition,  the new duration for sound recordings: 70 years.

Origin of Extension of Duration of Copyright in Canada

On 21 April 2015, the Canadian government released its Economic Action Plan 2015. Page 305 of the Plan deals with the protection of sound recordings and performances. The plan proposes to amend the Canadian Copyright Act and to extend the duration of copyright protection in Canada of performances and sound recordings from 50 years to 70 years after the release date of the sound recording. The stated purpose of this term extension is to ensure that performers and record labels are fairly compensated for the use of their music for an additional 20 years. The Plan states:

The mid-1960s were an exciting time in Canadian music, producing many iconic Canadian performers and recordings. While songwriters enjoy the benefits flowing from their copyright throughout their lives, some performers are starting to lose copyright protection for their early recordings and performances because copyright protection for song recordings and performances following the first release of the sound recording is currently provided for only 50 years.

Who Benefits from the Extension of Copyright?

In its press release, Music Canada mentioned that artists such as Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Anne Murray would benefit from this term extension as their works would have otherwise been entering the public domain over the next five years. The press release quoted Gordon Lightfoot saying, “I’m still releasing albums but my fans love my older songs. Thanks to the federal government for the recent legislation. Its’ passage will make sure the sound doesn’t go down on my early songs.”

The extension of copyright protection in Canada is only for performers (singers and musicians) and record companies (or anyone who make sound recordings.) The duration of protection for books, paintings or computer software is not affected. However, the duration of copyright in these works is usually much longer than in sound recordings since the duration is based on the life of the author; the duration remains at 50 years after the author has died.

The extension of the duration to 70 years will also benefit Canadian artists who will now be able to collect royalties from the exploitation of their recordings in European Union countries which only provide a 70 year copyright protection to nationals of countries that also provide 70 years of protection. This reciprocity will help increase royalties for artists.

P.S. Toronto-based lawyer Bob Tarantino point out the finer details of the extension of copyright for sound recordings .

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