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Public domain
This page helps users determine whether a given work is in the public domain in Canada where this site is hosted. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has A Guide to Copyrights. For a visualization see an archived (no longer current) version of the Canadian public domain flowchart. See the full text of Canada's Copyright Act.

If a work is in the public domain in the USA, please consider posting it on Wikisource in accordance with its copyright policy.



Contents

Older commentary being replaced

Section of the Copyright Act of Canada Work type Copyright term (until year end) Public domain
6.1 Anonymous and pseudonymous work 50 years from publication or 75 years from creation, whichever is shorter Work published through 1963 or created through 1938
6.2 Joint anonymous and pseudonymous work whose authors' identity are all unknown 50 years from publication or 75 years from creation, whichever is shorter Work published through 1963 or created through 1938
7(1), 7(2) Posthumous work, published before the coming into force of Section 7 on July 25, 1997[1] 50 years from publication Works published through 1963
7(3) Posthumous work, unpublished at the coming into force of Section 7 on July 25, 1997, whose author died within 50 years immediately before the coming into force of Section 7 50 years from the coming into force of Section 7, whether published or not (i.e. through 2047) Nothing through 2047
7(4) Posthumous work, unpublished at the coming into force of Section 7 on July 25, 1997, whose author died more than 50 years before the coming into force of Section 7 5 years from the coming into force of Section 7, whether published or not (i.e. through 2002) All works since 2003

Text and commentary

Only sections relevant to the operation of Wikilivres will be considered here. Unless otherwise stated, all references are to the Copyright Act.

Language equivalence — Constitution Act, Subsection 18 (1)

The statutes, records and journals of Parliament shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative. Les lois, les archives, les comptes rendus et les procès-verbaux du Parlement sont imprimés et publiés en français et en anglais, les deux versions des lois ayant également force de loi et celles des autres documents ayant même valeur.
This is an imprtant principle in applying Canadian law generally.

What is copyright — Subsection 3 (1)

For the purposes of this Act, “copyright”, in relation to a work, means the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatever,... Le droit d’auteur sur l’oeuvre comporte le droit exclusif de produire ou reproduire la totalité ou une partie importante de l’oeuvre, sous une forme matérielle quelconque,...
This sets up somewhat of an equivalence between "copyright" and "droit d'auteur". It's also important to take note of the term "substantial part". This allows insubstantial parts to be used, but "substantial" is still open to definition.

What is copyrightable — Subsection 5 (1)

Subject to this Act, copyright shall subsist in Canada, for the term hereinafter mentioned, in every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work if any one of the following conditions is met:
(a) in the case of any work, whether published or unpublished, . . ., the author was, at the date of the making of the work, a citizen or subject of, or a person ordinarily resident in, a treaty country;
(b) ... ; or
(c) in the case of a published work, . . .,
(i) in relation to subparagraph 2.2(1)(a)(i), the first publication in such a quantity as to satisfy the reasonable demands of the public, having regard to the nature of the work, occurred in a treaty country, or
(ii) in relation to subparagraph 2.2(1)(a)(ii) or (iii), the first publication occurred in a treaty country.
Sous réserve des autres dispositions de la présente loi, le droit d’auteur existe au Canada, pendant la durée mentionnée ci-après, sur toute oeuvre littéraire, dramatique, musicale ou artistique originale si l’une des conditions suivantes est réalisée:
a) pour toute oeuvre publiée ou non, . . ., l’auteur était, à la date de sa création, citoyen, sujet ou résident habituel d’un pays signataire;
b)... ;
c) s’il s’agit d’une oeuvre publiée, ..., selon le cas:
(i) la mise à la disposition du public d’exemplaires de l’oeuvre en quantité suffisante pour satisfaire la demande raisonnable du public, compte tenu de la nature de l’oeuvre, a eu lieu pour la première fois dans un pays signataire,
(ii) l’édification d’une oeuvre architecturale ou l’incorporation d’une oeuvre artistique à celle-ci, a eu lieu pour la première fois dans un pays signataire.
This subsection has been trimmed to remove references to cinematographic works since it is not in the foreseeable future of this site to be including such works.
There is generally a presumption that a work is copyright. This subsection makes it more specific, and tends to be broadly interpreted.
Of greater concern for this site is the need to consider the citizenship or residency of the author. This can be a problem if the author lived and worked in a different country from publication, and there is a need to consider the rule of the shorter term.
Paragraph (c) is written differently in the English and French versions. What is said directly about being published in the French version is done by reference to another provision in the English version.

Protection for older works - Subsection 5(1.01)

For the purposes of subsection (1), a country that becomes a Berne Convention country or a WTO Member after the date of the making or publication of a work shall, as of becoming a Berne Convention country or WTO Member, as the case may be, be deemed to have been a Berne Convention country or WTO Member at the date of the making or publication of the work, subject to subsection (1.02) and section 33. Pour l’application du paragraphe (1), le pays qui devient un pays partie à la Convention de Berne ou un membre de l’OMC après la date de création ou de publication de l’oeuvre est réputé avoir adhéré à la convention ou être devenu membre de l’OMC, selon le cas, à compter de cette date, sous réserve du paragraphe (1.02) et de l’article 33.
In effect this deals with new Berne or WTO countries, and grants protection for works that are protected there. This does not prevent the operation of the rule of the shorter term.
In 5(1) the reference was to treaty countries. This subsection mentions only Berne and WTO countries; it does not include UCC countries.
Section 33 applies only when efforts have already been made to publish a work before the relevant country became a Berne or WTO country.

Term of copyright, basic rule - Section 6

The term for which copyright shall subsist shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, be the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year. Sauf disposition contraire expresse de la présente loi, le droit d’auteur subsiste pendant la vie de l’auteur, puis jusqu’à la fin de la cinquantième année suivant celle de son décès.
This is the fundamental starting point for evaluating how long a copyright lasts in Canada. All other rules are specified exceptions. Exceptions may provide for longer terms as for posthumous works, or for shorter terms as for some foreign works. To use his works the author must have died in 1963 or earlier.

Term of copyright, joint authors - Subsection 9(1)

In the case of a work of joint authorship, except as provided in section 6.2, copyright shall subsist during the life of the author who dies last, for the remainder of the calendar year of that author’s death, and for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year, and references in this Act to the period after the expiration of any specified number of years from the end of the calendar year of the death of the author shall be construed as references to the period after the expiration of the like number of years from the end of the calendar year of the death of the author who dies last. Sous réserve de l’article 6.2, lorsqu’il s’agit d’une oeuvre créée en collaboration, le droit d’auteur subsiste pendant la vie du dernier survivant des coauteurs, puis jusqu’à la fin de la cinquantième année suivant celle de son décès. Toute mention dans la présente loi de la période qui suit l’expiration d’un nombre spécifié d’années après l’année de la mort de l’auteur doit s’interpréter comme une mention de la période qui suit l’expiration d’un nombre égal d’années après l’année du décès du dernier survivant des coauteurs.
Fundamentally, if you know who all the authors are the term is based on the author who died latest. The reference to section 6.2 applies when the authors are unknown. The rest of the subsection affects other calculations under the act, such as the reversionary rights under subsection 14(1).

Rule of the Shorter Term - Subsection 9 (2)

Authors who are nationals of any country, other than a country that is a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement, that grants a term of protection shorter than that mentioned in subsection (1) are not entitled to claim a longer term of protection in Canada. Les auteurs ressortissants d’un pays — autre qu’un pays partie à l’Accord de libre-échange nord-américain — qui accorde une durée de protection plus courte que celle qui est indiquée au paragraphe (1) ne sont pas admis à réclamer une plus longue durée de protection au Canada.
This is key in the treatment of works from other countries. Where an individual has lived in several countries there may still be questions about determining the nationality of the person at the time a work was published. Works by United States nationals with a shorter term there would be subject to Canadian terms unless they went into the US public domain before January 1,1994, the date on which the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect. A longer term in the United States should be disregarded. Interaction of this section with other sections may determine how the shorter term for another country is calculated. Notable in this regard are Section 7 (posthumous works), and Subsection 5 (1.02) (limitation on the application of the Berne Convention).

Government works - Section 12

Without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Crown, where any work is, or has been, prepared or published by or under the direction or control of Her Majesty or any government department, the copyright in the work shall, subject to any agreement with the author, belong to Her Majesty and in that case shall continue for the remainder of the calendar year of the first publication of the work and for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year. Sous réserve de tous les droits ou privilèges de la Couronne, le droit d’auteur sur les oeuvres préparées ou publiées par l’entremise, sous la direction ou la surveillance de Sa Majesté ou d’un ministère du gouvernement, appartient, sauf stipulation conclue avec l’auteur, à Sa Majesté et, dans ce cas, il subsiste jusqu’à la fin de la cinquantième année suivant celle de la première publication de l’oeuvre.
In practical terms this simply means that copyright on government works lasts for fifty years. This rule should also extend to works by provincial or municipal governments. Unlike other works for hire the presumption appears to favour ownership by the government instead of the individual author.

Works for hire — Subsection 13 (3)

Where the author of a work was in the employment of some other person under a contract of service or apprenticeship and the work was made in the course of his employment by that person, the person by whom the author was employed shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be the first owner of the copyright, but where the work is an article or other contribution to a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, there shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be deemed to be reserved to the author a right to restrain the publication of the work, otherwise than as part of a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical. Lorsque l’auteur est employé par une autre personne en vertu d’un contrat de louage de service ou d’apprentissage, et que l’oeuvre est exécutée dans l’exercice de cet emploi, l’employeur est, à moins de stipulation contraire, le premier titulaire du droit d’auteur; mais lorsque l’oeuvre est un article ou une autre contribution, à un journal, à une revue ou à un périodique du même genre, l’auteur, en l’absence de convention contraire, est réputé posséder le droit d’interdire la publication de cette oeuvre ailleurs que dans un journal, une revue ou un périodique semblable.
There are two points made by this subsection:
  1. It allows for a copyright to be owned by an employer in specific circumstances. The work must be "under contract of service or apprenticeship". A contract of service defines a strict employer/employee relationship; it does not apply when the author is an independent contractor in a contract for service. The work must also as a part of his employment. Furthermore, courts have ruled that an employer's copyrights must be specifically argued, and do not apply by default.
  2. The second part allows the author to limit the use of periodical material.

See also

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