Why to Register your Copyrights

What is a copyright?

S. 3 of the Copyright Act explains that ‘copyright’ refers to the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. It encompasses the right to perform the work, or publish the work, if the work is unpublished. Copyright covers original works including every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work produced by a Canadian or Canadian resident. Copyright also applies to original works produced by a citizen or resident of some other treaty country, and original works first published in a treaty country. Treaty countries include Berne Convention countries, Universal Copyright Convention countries and World Trade Organization member countries.

Copyrights also apply to “other-subject matter” including performers’ performances, communication signals and sound recordings, though copyright protections for these materials are comparatively limited.

Why register a copyright?

The Copyright Act creates a statutory presumption that a copyright automatically subsists in an original work or other subject-matter, and that the creators are owners of the copyright. Thus, original work and other subject-matters will receive copyright protection in Canada regardless of registration. However, copyright registration provides creators with a certificate of registration, furnishing evidence that the work or other subject-matter is copyright protected and that the person registered is the owner of the copyright. Copyright registration also gives public notice and thus creates a presumption that any infringers are aware of the copyright; with a registered copyright, sections of the Copyright Act which limit a copyright owner’s remedies where infringers had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that a copyright existed in a work or subject-matter will not apply.

What does copyright registration entail?

Copyright registrations are governed by the federal Copyright Act, which mandates that an application and fee are submitted to the Copyright Office. Government filing fees range from $50 (if the application is submitted electronically) to $65 dollars (if the application is submitted by any other means). Legal fees for copyright registrations generally start at $500 plus HST.

How long do copyrights last?

The length of copyright protection varies depending on the type of material, but as a general rule, copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author, the remaining days in the calendar year during which the author dies, and fifty full years following the author’s year of death.

What to do when you’re ready to register your copyrights and trademarks?

Use our helpful checklist to ensure you’re taking the necessary steps to secure your trademarks and copyrights. View the Protecting Your IP Checklist here.

Email Nick Wright at nick AT wrightbusinesslaw DOT ca to arrange a time to discuss registering your copyrights. Learn more about our legal services here.

This article and the contents herein are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Readers are advised to seek legal counsel prior to acting on any matter discussed herein. We take no responsibility for any third-party sites linked, nor is the presence or absence of a link an indication of my endorsement of views expressed.