Category Archives: Blog

Canadian Copyright Law Quiz

Think you know Canadian copyright law? Test your knowledge on Canadian copyright law with these 10 concepts about Canadian copyright law.

Canadian copyright law

True or False?

1. Copyright law is the same throughout the world. T F

2. Canada is a member of the leading copyright convention, the Berne Convention. T F

3. Canada and all countries have the same copyright duration: life + 50 or fifty years after the author’s death. T F

4. If you have permission to reproduce an image in a print book, you may also post that image on your website. T F

5. Once you have copyright protection in Canada you automatically have protection in at least 172 countries that belong to the Berne Copyright Convention. T F

6. Copyright registration is mandatory in Canada. T F

7. Fair use and fair dealing are exactly the same thing and both exist in the Canadian Copyright Act. T F

8. Even if an author has assigned the copyright to you, the author still has the right to prevent modifications that may be harmful to her reputation or honour. T F

9. If you cannot locate a copyright owner in Canada, then you may use that person’s content if you put in reasonable efforts to locate the owner even without obtaining an unlocatable copyright owner license from the Copyright Board of Canada. T F

10. There is an exception in the Canadian Copyright Act for individuals for the use of noncommercial user-generated content, which is sometimes called the YouTube or mashup provision. T F

ANSWERS: 1F; 2T; 3F; 4F; 5T; 6F; 7F; 8T; 9F; 10T.

Learn more about Canadian copyright law.

copyright, WIPO, Marrakesh Treaty

Canada Joins the Marrakesh Treaty

In September 2016, we see the first World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty targeting those who use content, the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh Treaty or Marrakesh or MVT). Marrakesh becomes effective 30 September 2016. The treaty sets out limitations and exceptions for countries to include in their domestic copyright laws to allow the reproduction, distribution and availability of published works in accessible formats and to permit those works to be exchanged across borders. Like all WIPO treaties, Marrakesh requires ratification by 20 states to take effect. Canada recently adhered to Marrakesh as the 20th country.

International Copyright Law

 
June 2013 marked a milestone in international copyright law and in the role of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with the finalization of a new treaty: the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh Treaty or Marrakesh or MVT).

 
One unique element of the Treaty is that it is the first WIPO copyright treaty devoted solely to copyright limitations or exceptions as opposed to rights for creators of copyright-protected works, performers and sound recording producers. Limitations or exceptions limit the exclusive rights of creators and allow consumers to use protected content without permission from creators. More than 600 negotiators from WIPO’s then-186 member countries met in June 2013 to finalize this historical Treaty. (WIPO currently has 188 member states.)

 
WIPO Copyright Treaties Set Minimum Standards

 
Similar to all WIPO treaties, the Marrakesh Treaty does not set out the law as it applies to works for the blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. Rather, it sets out minimum standards that Treaty member-countries must adhere to and include in their own domestic copyright laws. The Treaty applies to all literary and artistic works (including text, notation and related illustrations) whether or not the works are published or otherwise made publicly available in any media. It is understood that this includes these works when they are in an audio form; for example, as audiobooks.

 
Fifty-one countries signed the Marrakesh Treaty; however the Treaty becomes effective only once twenty countries have ratified it. In order to ratify the Treaty, the ratifying country must have in its own copyright legislation the minimum standards that are in the Treaty. Once a country has ratified the Treaty, it is said to be a member of the Treaty.
Current Members of the Marrakesh Treaty.

 
The first 20 countries to ratify Marrakesh are (in alphabetical order):
Argentina
Australia
Brazil
Canada
Chile
Ecuador
El Salvador
Guatemala
India
Israel
Mali
Mexico
Mongolia
North Korea
Paraguay
Peru
Singapore
South Korea
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay

 

National Law Exceptions
Ratifying countries to Mararakesh must have a provision in their copyright statutes that sets out a limitation or exception for accessible format copies. The provision is an exception to the right of reproduction, the right of distribution, and the right of making available to the public to allow for the availability of works in accessible format copies for beneficiary persons. The provision should allow any necessary changes to the work required to make it accessible in the alternative format. Ratifying states may go a step further and extend this provision to the right of public performance.

 
As is the case with other copyright treaties, any limitations or exceptions provided for in domestic legislation must meet the following test as set out in Article 11 of the Treaty:
“…a Contracting Party may permit the reproduction of works in certain special cases provided that such reproduction does not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.”

It is up to each Treaty member country to interpret this test for any limitation or exception.

Canadian Copyright for Bloggers

Canadian Copyright Law for Bloggers

I recently spoke in Montreal at a food bloggers conference. My presentation was about legally using content as well as protecting content in your own blog. Because it was a food bloggers conference, the number one question I was asked throughout the conference was reproducing recipes and are recipes protected by copyright. Bottom line: a list of ingredients are not protected by copyright however the prose used to describe how to make the recipe is protected by copyright. Of course you can’t really protect phrases like, Add half a cup of sugar. So many food bloggers and recipe book authors try to create a style with specific phrases and wording so it’s obvious when someone is copying their style. Is a style protected by copyright? No, but the exact words used to describe how to make a recipe are protected by copyright.

Copyright tips for bloggersAnother big issue for food bloggers is attribution. Even if you use a list of ingredients without permission and you explain how to make the recipe in your own words, ethically you should attribute the original recipe author and also link to the author’s website or the recipe itself if it’s available online.

See my list of copyright tips for staying legal and protecting your content from the Food Bloggers Conference.

 

Duration of copyright protection in Canada

What is the Duration of Copyright Protection in Canada?

The Duration of Copyright in Canada

The Copyright Act provides the general rule for the length of copyright protection for published works as “the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.”  Under this life-plus-fifty rule, an author has copyright in a work he or she creates throughout his or her lifetime, and his or her heirs or assignees enjoy copyright for a period of fifty years until the calendar year end after the author’s death.

Note that the duration of copyright in Canada is determined by the life of the author, and not by the life of the owner of copyright.  So if an author sells his copyright and assigns the rights in his work to another person or company, the duration of copyright is still calculated based on the life of the author – and not the new owner. This is also true where works made during the course of employment grant copyright to someone other than the author of the work – copyright is determined based on the life of the author. Where duration is tied to the life of the author, the date when the work was created or first published is irrelevant with respect to the term of copyright protection.

Calculation of the duration of copyright is based on the calendar year plus fifty years, as opposed to the actual date of the author’s death.  For instance, if a writer died on March 1, 1980, copyright in his or her books expires on December 31, 2030.  In fact, most creations of the same author (unless any creations are subject to a specific provision other than the general rule of copyright) will be protected for the same amount of time.

There are various exceptions to the above general rule of life-plus-fifty protection. For example, Crown or government works in Canada are protected until published and for an additional fifty years from the date of publication. A complete explanation of the duration of copyright protection in Canada and exceptions to the life-plus-fifty rule are in Chapter 8, Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition.

Duration of Moral Rights Protection in Canada

The Copyright Act specifically states that moral rights last for the same term as the copyright in a work. So, moral rights endure for the life of the author plus fifty years from the calendar year end of the author’s death.  This term allows heirs to sue on behalf of a deceased author where it seems that a modification to a work resulted in prejudice to the author’s honour or reputation, or to protect any other of the moral rights.

Has Copyright Duration in Canada Recently Been Extended?

Effective 23 June 2015, Canada extended the protection of copyright in specific works only – in performances and sound recordings. The duration of copyright protection in performances and sound recordings is now 70 years after the release date of the sound recording. See Canada Extends Copyright Protection in Sound Recordings.

What is a Public Domain Work in Canada?

Once copyright has expired in a work, the work is said to be in the “public domain.”  The work is no longer protected by copyright and can be used freely, without obtaining permission from or compensating, the copyright owner.  For example, works of Mozart and Shakespeare are in the public domain and can be copied freely (provided the works are not adaptations).

In Canada, the duration of copyright cannot be extended or renewed.

Once copyright expires, moral rights also expire, and a work may be freely adapted and used without the author’s name on it. In some countries, moral rights are in perpetuity and exist even after copyright in a work expires.

Learn more about Canadian copyright law.

If you find this information helpful, stay connected by subscribing to my free copyright e-letter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Copyright Office Website + Compendium

There are a couple of initiatives by the U.S. Copyright Office that may be of great assistance to Canadians (Americans and others too) who need to locate copyright owners, register copyright- protected works under the U.S. Copyright Office registration system, and understand how the U.S. Copyright Office consistently approaches and interprets the U.S. Copyright Act and the Office’s mandate.

New U.S. Copyright Office Website

The U.S. Copyright Office website has an entire new look. It is much cleaner and easier to navigate. On the home page, you are initially given four choices: register a copyright; record a document; search records; and learn about statutory licensing. As Canadians you are likely entering the U.S. Copyright Office website to register your work or to search the records to locate a copyright holder. Registering a work with the U.S. Copyright Office is described in detail on pages 52-55 of Canadian Copyright Law. This updated site has a tutorial on completing an electronic copyright registration. Another common use of the U.S. Copyright Office site is to search the records to locate a copyright holder and perhaps obtain permission to use a work. A tutorial that details each step of searching the records is also accessible from the home page of the website. There is tons of other useful information so worth taking a look and browsing through the new website.

Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition

On 19 August 2014, Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante released a draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition – a 1,200 page document that in many parts reads as a treatise on U.S. copyright law. The Compendium sets out administrative practices relating to registration and recordation policy. It remains in draft form for 120 days pending final review and implementation. Prior editions of the Compendium were for the most part internally directed and this third edition is a comprehensive overhaul that makes the practices and standards of the Office more accessible and transparent to the public. It addresses basic copyright principles such as standards of copyrightability, joint authorship, work for hire, and routine questions like fees, records retrieval and other procedural issues. The compendium will be of help to Canadians seeking in-depth information on what applications for copyright registration will be accepted by the U.S. Copyright Office, who may file a copyright registration application, examination practises, and copyright office services.

Both the updated U.S. Copyright Office website and the Compendium are helpful resources to add to Chapter 15, An Overview of American Copyright Law, in Canadian Copyright Law.

Learn more about Canadian copyright law.