Area of Law: Intellectual Property
Answer # 314
What can be the subject of a Copyright?Region: Ontario Answer # 314
In Canada, copyright is automatically attached to any original work including:
- sound recordings
- computer programs
- architectural works
- compilations of works
- paintings and illustrations
- television and radio programs
To be covered by copyright, the creative works must be original, and must not have been copied from something else.
What can’t be the subject of a copyright?
There is no copyright, however, in mere ideas, facts or pure information in any work. The law states that copyright only protects the way in which an idea or information is expressed (that is, its format), not the idea or information itself. For example, information in a copyrighted news story can still be re-published or written differently as film screenplays or books by others so long as these subsequent works don’t copy the wording or manner of the original work.
Effect of a copyright
Copyright gives the owner of a work the sole right to produce, reproduce, perform, or publish the work or a substantial part of the work. Copyright law makes it illegal to copy certain types of original works without the permission of the copyright owner. If you infringe upon someone’s copyright, you can be sued in civil court for damages and, under the copyright legislation, you may be subject to a large fine and/or jail term. In most cases, the copyright holder will ask a civil court for an injunction in order to prevent publication of the copies and also will sue for damages suffered (such as lost profits).
For more information, refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
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