How to Obtain Permission to Use Canadian Government Content

If you think you can use a government brochure without permission, you should first do some research to determine what’s protected under Canadian copyright law.

Government Works are Protected by Copyright in Canada

In Canada, federal government materials are protected by copyright. These government materials are called “Crown works.” Federal, provincial and territorial government materials are all protected by copyright.

Do You Need Permission to Use Canadian Government Materials?

Obtaining permission to use government works in CanadaAccording to the Reproduction of Federal Law Order, anyone may, without charge or requesting permission, reproduce enactments and consolidations of enactments of the Government of Canada, and decisions and reasons for decisions of federally constituted courts and administrative tribunals. This is provided that due diligence is exercised in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced and that the reproduction is not represented as an official version.

Materials other than statutes and decisions, etc., may be reproduced without permission if for personal or public noncommercial purposes or for cost-recovery purposes. (Specifics of such use are set out on pages 270 – 271 of the book Canadian Copyright Law.)

Permission to reproduce Government of Canada works is always required if the work is being revised, adapted or translated. Until very recently, Public Works and Government Services Canada offered a streamlined procedure for obtaining permission using an Application for Copyright Clearance of Government of Canada Works and submitting it to Public Works and Government Services Canada. However, this procedure (as outlined on pages 271 – 272 of the book Canadian Copyright Law) has changed.

Procedure for Obtaining Copyright Permission from Canadian Government has Changed

Since late 2013, you must clear copyright in Canadian government materials directly from the department or agency that created the materials. The Canadian government offers this list of 31 Departmental contact points for Crown Copyright and Licensing with email addresses for each department or agency. Note that of the 31 listed names, only two have URLs for online copyright clearances:

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has an online Copyright Authorization Form.

Industry Canada provides an Apply for Crown Copyright Clearance form.

Clearing Crown or Government Works in Canada

Time will tell whether the previous “one-stop” clearance system or this new “department-specific” one is more efficient. If you have experience in clearing Canadian government works (Crown works), please share with us by posting a comment below.

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