top of page

How Do You Apply For Copyright - Canada?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

The VDB Inc. Team believes it is important to know the steps and information to apply for copyright for your work or business. Therefore, we have compiled the information that will help you obtain it. In Canada, there is a copyright law that must be followed if you don’t want your work or business to be copied by any other people. For this reason, Canadian Law protects your original work and prohibits other people from copying your work without your permission, but only if you followed the right measures and procedures needed to copyright your work. (CIPO, 2015). The general meaning of copyright is simply "the right to copy", which means that whoever owns the copyright to the product or business has the right to produce and reproduce the work in any form (CIPO, 2015).

Why should you register for copyright?

If you believe that your work is worth protecting you can copyright it. Once your work is protected through copyright you get a certificate of registration that when the day comes and you have to fight in court, then you have the needed documentation and evidence to prove that you own the copyright of your protected work.

By marking your work with this © symbol that consists of the name of the copyright owner, and the year of first publication (CIPO, 2015), you generally indicate that the work is protected by copyright, even if your work is not registered you can use this symbol but the only problem is 'you cannot sue them in federal court unless and until you have registered the copyright to the work they have infringed' (Parker, K. 2014).

The good news is that you can go ahead and register a copyrighted work after it has been infringed and then sue the infringer in federal court. But if you failed to register the copyrighted work before it is infringed (that is, before someone copied it without your permission), then you can only win in court actual damages that you can prove. That means that if their copying was obnoxious and offensive but did not do you any actual economic harm (or at least no actual economic harm that you can prove in court), then you probably won’t actually win any money from them (but you’ll still have to pay your lawyer).

Of course, if you can prove damages, such as lost sales or royalties, then you can win those actual damages in court. But if you had registered the copyright before it was infringed, you would be entitled not just to actual damages but could choose instead to get “statutory” damages that you don’t have to prove' (Parker, K. 2014).

Many people confuse copyright with patents or trademarks, but like copyright, these rights are granted for intellectual creativity (CIPO, 2015). Here are some differences:(CIPO, 2015)

  • Copyrights: Provide protection for literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical works, computer programs, performances by artists, sound recordings, and communication signals.

  • Patents: Cover new and useful inventions or any new improvement on an existing invention.

  • Trademarks: Can be one or a combination of words, sounds, or designs used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from others. A Sole Proprietorship Name can be trademarked.

  • Designs: Are the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation, or a combination of these features applied to a finished product.

What is protected by copyright?

Here are some of the categories of work that is protected by Copyright:

  • Literary works:

    • Books, pamphlets, computer programs, and other works consisting of text

  • Dramatic works:

    • Motion pictures, plays, screenplays & scripts

  • Musical works:

    • Compositions with or without words

  • Artistic works:

    • Paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures & plans

The terms of copyright

Copyright only applies when you (citizen or person residing in Canada) were there in person when the work was created (CIPO, 2015). Even if your work is published for the first time in a treaty country copyright applies, and even if the author was not a citizen or resident of Canada (CIPO, 2015). “A certificate of copyright registration is evidence that a copyright exists and that the registered person is the owner of the copyright” (CIPO, 2015).

How long does copyright last in Canada?

Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, for the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years after the end of that calendar year. So protection expires on December 31 of the 50th year after the author's death. Here are a few examples of how long Copyright lasts:

  • Crown copyright

'Applies to government publications (thus, created for or published by the Crown). Copyright in these works lasts for the remainder of the calendar year in which the work is first published, and for 50 years after that.

  • Joint authorship

In the case of a work that has more than one author, the copyright will last for the remainder of the calendar year in which the last author dies, and for 50 years after that.

  • Unknown author

In the case of a work where the identity of the author is unknown, copyright in the work exists for whichever is the earlier of: the remainder of the calendar year of the first publication of the work plus 50 years, or the remainder of the calendar year of the making of the work plus 75 years.

  • Posthumous works

These are literary, dramatic, or musical works or engravings protected by copyright that has not been published, performed in public, or communicated to the public by telecommunication during the author's lifetime' (CIPO, 2015).

Section 7 of the Copyright Act Has details regarding the term of copyright for such works.

You can search the Copyrights Database online

You can search for information such as copyright owner names and ownership changes, at the Copyrights Database for all Canadian copyrights registered from October 1991 (CIPO, 2015). You can search by:

  • Author name,

  • Category,

  • Country of publication,

  • Owner/assignor name,

  • Registration number,

  • Title,

  • Year of publication

If you are looking for copyright registrations from 1841, including copyrights before 1991 that are not accessible online, you can visit the Client Service Center where these records are stored (CIPO, 2015).

Application Forms

The Copyright Office can give you the basic information you need to file a copyright registration application 'however, they cannot prepare your application, interpret the Copyright Act, the Copyright Regulations, or assist you in any matters other than the registration or the use of our records. You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice ' (CIPO, 2015). You can get application forms online, at the Client Service Center or from a regional Office of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (CIPO, 2015). You can also submit your application electronically, by mail, or by fax (not your copy of the work, just the application form because they don't review or assess works in any way. ) and with the appropriate fee (CIPO, 2015).

Here is the information you’ll need to file an application.

  • Title of the work - The single work or series of works is needed.

  • Category - Work consisting of text, books, pamphlets, lectures, tables, and translations. Computer programs are also included

  • Publication - When a work is published, the date and place of first publication

  • Owner - You must provide the name and full mailing address of the owner of the copyright. The copyright owner is usually the author of the work

  • Author - The person who created the work should be named as the author

  • Statement - A statement that the applicant is the author of the work


“You can make your payment by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express), deposit account, money order or check payable in Canadian dollars to the Receiver General for Canada. Visit the fees page for details or contact the Client Service Center” (CIPO, 2015).

'The fees payable for your copyright application is the following:

*If the application and fee are not submitted online through the Copyright Office, via the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website, an additional fee of $15 is required' (CIPO, 2015).

How to Submit your application

You can register online by clicking HERE for a reduced fee. Visit the Correspondence Procedures page if you would like more information. If you want to check your current application status you should include your application number, the name of the owners, and the title of your work (CIPO, 2015). Visit the forms page to request these services online or to access forms that you can fill out and mail.

The VDB Inc. Team believes that with the help of this information you are well on your way to go get your work copyrighted today. If you believe that you have work that is of great importance and you want it protected then filing a copyright application is the best way to go, especially if you don't want your work to be infringed. We think it's a great step to take for any business to have your work Copyrighted.


86 views0 comments


bottom of page