Sociology Index

Canadian Copyright Law

Copyright law in Canada largely reflects international treaties signed by it. Canada is a party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 1886. The Canadian case, CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, re-evaluated the meaning of "original" and found that for a work to be original it must be the result of the exercise of "skill and judgement". Skill, means the "use of one's knowledge, developed aptitiude or practised ability in producing work", and judgement, meaning the "use of one's capacity for discernment or ability to form an opinion or evaluation by comparing different possible options in producing the work".

Originality does not require any novelty or creativity though it requires intellectual effort beyond mere mechanical exercise. The determination of originality on the basis presented in CCH Canadian depends on the facts. For a large part, it depends on degree to which the work originated from the author. The medium or form used is significant. Whether it comprises elements that are in the public domain or not, whether it the ordering of data or facts, or whether the form is pedestrial or novel. Copyright provides the protection of expression of ideas. This entails that there must be a form, or "fixation", to the expression. It is fixation that distinguishes an expression from an idea.

In Canadian Admiral Corp. v. Rediffusion, the court considered fixation: "for copyright to exist in a 'work' it must be expressed to some extent at least in some material form, capable of identification and having a more or less permanent endurance". In this case, the court found that there was insufficient fixation in the live broadcast of a sports event.

Government works
Section 12 of the Copyright Act reserves copyright for all works produced by the government for a period of 50 years following the end of the calendar year when the work has been performed, unlike the United States, where the government does not hold copyright. In addition, the Copyright Act applies to government works, but "without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Crown".