Copyright law was created to protect creative works like sculptures, movies, paintings, books, and songs. Many businesses and individuals own a wide variety of copyrights, but others choose to opt-out at their own risk. Once a creative work is infringed, there is a question of whether or not the work is against the law.
What constitutes a breach of copyright law depends on the country, but Canada and the United States both follow the Berne Convention’s international agreement. The Berne Convention between Canada and America have similarities, although they both use different terminologies. In both countries, registration of copyright isn’t required for a copyright to happen; however, in Canada, registration isn’t mandatory to sue, while in the United States, it is.
Let’s look at some other differences between the two countries regarding copyright law.
A moral right is an author’s right to be associated with a piece of work, as well as the work’s integrity. For example, an artist has the right to a painting, and the painting can’t be altered without the artist’s permission. A copyright lawyer (for example, Heer Law) in Canada would note that moral rights can be enforced on all protected work, while the United States only recognizes it with visual art. Be aware that a copyright assignment for Canadian law doesn’t always imply a waiver of moral rights.
Work for Hire
Canadians have never even heard of “work for hire” because it isn’t in their copyright law. Canadians own the rights to their work, regardless if the work was paid for by the contractor. However, in the United States, the contractor owns the rights to the job, regardless if they paid for the work or not – as long as the contractor commissioned it. Work for hire only applies if the work was done in the course of their duties with the employer.
Canada has a simple copyright term length law. The term for the copyright of the artists’ work if the author’s life plus 50 years. When the author dies, the “plus” term starts. If someone wants to use that work, they must contact the family or next of kin. In the United States, the basic term lasts the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, but a work for hire copyright lasts 120 years or 95 years after publication – whichever is shorter. Terms become complicated if the work was created before 1978.
Artistic works created by the U.S. government or work produced by government employees are considered public domain. They can’t be copyrighted during the artist’s lifetime, or after. However, Canadian law states that works created by government employees during their work hours are subject to Crown Copyright. Crown Copyright is based on the U.K. system and follows separate rules and regulations. They are not subjected to statutory copyright terms. The way that the Crown uses these works is subject to their whims and is usually protected permanently – even after the artist has passed.