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Copyright and Piracy

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Copyright

In Canada, the Copyright Act governs copyright law. Almost all forms of expression, like videos, paintings, musical scores, stories, or computer programs fall under copyright protection, so long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file). Copyright is automatic whenever an original work is created, written down, recorded, or entered onto a computer.

In general, copyright lasts as long as the author is still alive. After that, there is a waiting period for about 50 years before a work falls into the “public domain”. Public domain means that anyone can use it. Sometimes copyright is complicated, so it is always better to check first.

Registering copyright

You can get a certificate of registration to protect an original work. A certificate of copyright can be used in court to prove you own the work. An owner might want to get a certificate of registration of copyright to show that the copyright is registered to them. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has more information on copyright registration.

Copyright infringement

Copyright infringement (infringement means violating a law) is when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed or made into a very similar work without the permission of the copyright owner. According the Copyright Act, an infringer of copyright is liable for financial gain made as well as damages to the owner of the copyright. Penalties are decided by the court.

Posting copyrighted material online is a serious matter. If a copyright owner decides to take legal action, you could end up having to pay “damages.” That means the copyright owner could sue you and you might have to pay them a bunch of money. If you are thinking of posting or using a video on YouTube, it is a good idea to read the Copyright Tips.

In Canada, all original published works are copyrighted. Generally speaking, if a website has a “share” button that allows users to copy and post content — websites like YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket — then it is OK to share the work without infringing on copyrights. However, most websites do not have a share button and generally, it is illegal to copy and post content from them. So, for example, you should not copy and post pictures from Google Images, Bing, or Ebay.