Am I protected by copyright outside Canada?

Am I protected by copyright outside Canada?

The short answer is yes. When your content is used at the international level, it falls under the jurisdiction of the country where it’s being used. Canada’s Copyright Act doesn’t apply, regardless of whether you’re a Canadian citizen or your content was published by a Canadian publisher.

However, that doesn’t mean anyone can use your content without your consent and without paying you copyright royalties.

The reality is that every time you cross a national border, the rules change… at least in part.

National treatment

Under the Berne Convention, the 175 signatory nations must ensure that your content is protected by their national copyright legislation in the same way that their local content is.

You therefore retain your rights when your content is available outside Canada, but the legislative provisions may vary between jurisdictions.

Basic principles

Rest assured that the rules don’t change entirely from country to country. The nations that have signed the Berne Convention are required to respect certain common basic principles:

- Copyright protection does not require any formalities
- Moral rights must be recognized for the author, including the right to be attributed authorship of the work and to protect its integrity
- Exclusive patrimonial rights must be assigned to the author, including the right to reproduce the content
- Copyright must last at least 50 years after the author’s death

Use of your content internationally

In line with those basic principles, users in each signatory nation have to respect your rights by complying with the copyright legislation in effect in their country. That’s not such a bad thing because their legislation could provide better protection that ours!

Even though your content would enter the public domain in Canada 50 years after the year of your death, that won’t happen in Europe until the end of the 70th year.

And keep in mind that the copyright collectives in the various countries work closely together. In fact, Copibec has signed bilateral agreements with 33 countries. As a result, whenever your content is reproduced in those countries and the use is reported, you’ll be paid royalties.