Copyright Act overview

Canada’s Copyright Act protects any original work as soon as it is "fixed in any material form." The legislation protects the expression of an idea but not the idea itself.


Author or representative has authority over content

Under the Copyright Act, authors are the first owners of copyright in their works unless the author created the content as an employee. Authors can exercise their rights themselves, assign their rights or appoint a representative such as an agent, distributor or copyright collective to exercise the rights on their behalf.

Those rights, which are often called patrimonial rights, make it possible for the copyright owner (i.e. author or representative) to determine how their content will be used. Thanks to those rights, copyright owners are able to earn income – generally in the form of royalties – so they can continue their creative work and distribute their works.


Moral rights

The Copyright  Act also states that the author of a copyright-protected work has moral rights. Those rights allow the author to be acknowledged as the creator of the work or to remain anonymous. Authors can also preserve the integrity of their work against any use that could be prejudicial to the author’s honour or reputation.

As a result, bibliographic references for the work, including the author’s name, if known, must be indicated. In addition, the work cannot be distorted, mutilated or otherwise modified or used in association with a product, service, cause or institution in a way that could be prejudicial to the author’s honour or reputation.

Authors cannot assign their moral rights by they can refrain from exercising them.




At the international level

Canada has been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since 1970. It has also signed various international intellectual property treaties such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) which lays down the guiding principles for international copyright protection.

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