The Basics of Understanding Copyright in Canada

Creative Works are Protected Under Canadian Law

When protecting creations such as writing, paintings, and even computer programs, regardless of value, Canadian law protects all creative works, under the Copyright Act. Creators of original work have rights that are protected.

“Simply put, the Act prohibits others from copying your work without your permission. Its purpose is to protect copyright owners while promoting creativity and the orderly exchange of ideas” (Government of Canada, 2018).

What is Copyright

Copyright is defined in the simplest terms, “copyright” means “the right to copy.” “In general, copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. It includes the right to perform the work or any substantial part of it or, in the case of a lecture, to deliver it. If the work is unpublished, copyright includes the right to publish the work or any substantial part of it” (Government of Canada, 2018).

“People occasionally confuse copyrights with patents, trademarks, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies. Like copyright, these others are rights granted for intellectual creativity and are forms of IP”(Government of Canada, 2018).

Important differences:

  • “Copyright provides protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs) and other subject-matter known as performer’s performances, sound recordings and communication signals.
  • Patents cover new and useful inventions (product, composition, machine, process) or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention.
  • Trademarks may be one or a combination of words, sounds or designs used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others” (Government of Canada, 2018).

Copyright protects all original “literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works provided the conditions set out in the Copyright Act have been met. Each of these general categories covers a wide range of creations, including:

  • literary works such as books, pamphlets, computer programs and other works consisting of text
  • dramatic works such as motion picture films, plays, screenplays and scripts
  • musical works such as compositions with or without words
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures and plans” (Government of Canada, 2018).

The Conditions for Copyright

Works

“Copyright applies to every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work where the author was at the date of the making of the work a citizen or subject of, or a person ordinarily resident in, Canada or some other treaty country. (A treaty country is defined as a Berne Convention country, a Universal Copyright Convention country or a World Trade Organization [WTO] member.)” (Government of Canada, 2018).

Benefits of registration

“The Copyright Act states that a certificate of registration of copyright is evidence that copyright exists and that the person registered is the owner of the copyright. However, the Copyright Office is not responsible for policing or checking on registered works and how people use them. It also cannot guarantee that the legitimacy of ownership or the originality of a work will never be questioned” (Government of Canada, 2018).

A lifetime of protection

“Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of that calendar year. Therefore, protection will expire on December 31 of the 50th year after the author dies” (Government of Canada, 2018).

The difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism.

“Copyright infringement is simply any infringement up on the rights of a copyright holder. Copyright law gives a copyright holder (usually the creator of the work) a set of rights that they and they alone can exploit legally (save for exceptions such as fair use)” (Bailey, 2013). Those include:

  • The right to reproduce/copy a work.
  • The right to create version of a work based upon another work.
  • The right to distribute copies of a work to the public.
  • The right to publicly display or perform a work.

“This means a wide variety of activities can be copyright infringing including performing a copyrighted play without permission, writing an unauthorized sequel to a work or simply making copies of the work” (Bailey, 2013).

Basically, copyright infringement, under the law, covers many unlawful activities that violate the rights of copyright holders. Copyright infringement is constructed under law as plagiarism is constructed under ethics. Plagiarism is essentially taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own.

“The definition of ‘work’ can include a variety of things including ideas, words, images, etc. Anything that is seen as an unethical and unattributed use of another’s original creation can be defined as plagiarism” (Bailey, 2013).

Teachers are held to higher standards as teaching is a public profession

As teachers, we are held to higher standards as “teaching is a public profession” and that Canada’s Supreme Court rules that “off duty conduct, even when not directly related to students” is relevant to their [the teachers’] ability to teach. The Education Act Section 264 states that teachers are to have morality “to inculcate by precept and example respect for religion and the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues” (Education Act 264 (1) (c)).

 So think before you use another person’s work and cite the work when you use it.

Collaboratively Yours,

Deb Weston, PhD

References

Bailey, J. (October 7, 2013) The Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism, Plagiarism Today, Downloaded from https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2013/10/07/difference-copyright-infringement-plagiarism/

Government of Canada. (1985). Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42). Copyright Board of Canada https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-42/

Government of Canada. (September 26, 2018). A Guide to Copyright. Copyright Board of Canada https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr02281.html#understandingCopyright

Government of Ontario. (October 17, 2018). Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2, Government of Ontario, Downloaded from https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90e02

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Updated: January 13, 2019 — 9:58 pm

The Author

Deborah Weston

I love teaching and have been practicing for over 18 years in the Peel DSB. I have taught grades 2 through to grade 8, including split and contained Spec Ed classes. I am an advocate/ally for issues dealing with Workplace Health & Safety, Special Education, Mental Wellness, LGBTQT, and Aboriginal topics. I have qualifications in Special Education, Reading, Technology, Mathematics, and Integrated Curriculum. I hold a PhD in Education Policy & Leadership and Quantitative Analysis. I believe that when working collaboratively, teachers are better together. My opinions are my own, usually supported by peer-reviewed literature and law. Follow me on Twitter @dr_weston_PhD

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