Resources: Copyright

What is Copyright?
In the simplest terms, copyright means the right to copy. Only the owner of copyright usually the creator of the piece is allowed to produce or reproduce the work in question or to permit anyone else to do so. Suppose, for example, that you have written a novel. Copyright law rewards and protects your creative endeavor by giving you the sole right to publish or use your work in any number of ways. You may also choose not to publish your work and to prevent anyone else from doing so.

A painting, poem, musical score, computer program all these are valuable creations, although perhaps no one can measure their worth. Some may earn a lot of money in the marketplace and others, none at all. Regardless of their merit or commercial value, Canadian law regards all such original creative works as copyright material. This means that if you own the copyright in a poem, song, or other work, you have a number of rights which are protected under the Copyright Act. Simply put, the Act prohibits others from copying your work without your permission. Its purpose, like that of other pieces of intellectual property legislation, is to protect owners while promoting creativity and the orderly exchange of ideas. Copyright law has become increasingly complex over the years to respond to a sophisticated communications environment. In this high-tech age, there are many new ways of producing creative works as well as of imitating or exploiting them without the creator’s permission. The photocopier, videocassette recorder, and personal computer digital reproduction of songs are just a few examples of modern devices that help artists communicate with their audiences, but that also make it harder to control unauthorized use. Your original work is worth a great deal to you. It pays to protect your intellectual property by knowing your rights and how to use them.

This information is to be considered solely as a guide and should not be quoted as or considered to be a legal authority. It may become obsolete in whole or in part at any time without notice. Authority must be found in the Trade-marks Act, the Trade-marks Regulations (1996), and in decisions of the courts interpreting them.