Copyright subsists in every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work provided that certain conditions are met. An ‘original work’ is the product of a creator’s exercise of skill and judgment, and may not be a copy of another work. Copyright also subsists in performers’ performances, sound recordings and broadcast signals. Very few original works do not attract copyright. As well, simply because something is publicly available on the Internet does not mean it is not protected by copyright.
Copyright comprises a bundle of exclusive rights owned by the copyright holder. Its purpose is to protect content creators and owners, providing them with control over their work and the potential of a financial reward. Conversely, copyright is meant to promote creativity – by establishing a system for making use of others’ work – as well as the orderly exchange of ideas. Underlying data in copyright-protected works is not itself protected.
In general terms, with the exception of artists’ performances, sound recordings and broadcast signals, the Canadian term of copyright lasts for the life of the creator and a period of 50-70 years from the end of the year in which the creator died. If the creator died in 1971 or earlier, the period is 50 years from the end of the year of their death. If the creator died in 1972 or later, the period is 70 years from the end of the year of their death.
Once the term of copyright has expired a work becomes part of the public domain and the work can be used, e.g., reproduced or communicated, without permission. Other options are also available – see and . You can also make use of any .