Thursday, January 27, 2011

Copyright and Canadian Values

We spent some time today talking about copyright and plagiarism in class. I feel that this is an extremely relevant topic, but I feel that we are uninformed to what the law actually says. So, here is a short overview of the Copyright Act.

1.  To have copyright means to have the sole right to produce, copy, publish, adapt, or distribute your work (3).

2.  Copyright lasts for the life of the author, and then to the end of the 50th calendar year after that (6).

3.  Infringement (quoted directly from the Act - section 27):
  1) It is an infringement of copyright for any person to do, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, anything that by this Act only the owner of the copyright has the right to do.

(2) It is an infringement of copyright for any person to
(a) sell or rent out,
(b) distribute to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,
(c) by way of trade distribute, expose or offer for sale or rental, or exhibit in public,
(d) possess for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c), or
(e) import into Canada for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c),
a copy of a work, sound recording or fixation of a performer’s performance or of a communication signal that the person knows or should have known infringes copyright or would infringe copyright if it had been made in Canada by the person who made it.

4.  Fair Dealing.  You can use a work for research or private study, criticism or review, or news reporting.  Educational institutions may copy for instruction or examinations, except where a work is commercially available in a format suited to that purpose.  Schools may perform a work, but if it is recorded, must pay royalties after one year, or destroy the recording (29).

5.  Electronics.  Computer programs may be copied or adapted for single use.  They may make only one copy (30.6).

6.  Music and schools.  Schools and religious or charitable organizations may perform a work in public, play a recording in public, or play a communication signal carrying either of the two without penalty (32.2).

7.  Criminal remedies.  It is an offence to sell or rent an infringing copy, or to distribute an infringing copy (42).

8.  Private copying.  As long as you do not sell or rent or distribute, persons may copy entire works onto an audio recording medium (80).  Authors, makers, and performers have the right to payment from makers of blank audio recording media (81).

As a reward for making it through the legalese, here is a Reebok ad from a while ago that you might not remember.

There is a lot more in there, but these seemed to be the important parts.  It's really hard to talk about copyright when you have no idea what the law actually says, I think.  When we were speaking in class about this, I got the impression that our knowledge of the law came from hearsay and not fact (especially from myself), so I have gone to the source here.



  1. Matt, I'm really glad that you posted these sections of the Canadian copyright laws. I must admit that I was ill-informed. I recognize that it's of great importance to become familiar with copyright laws especially as a musician and educator. We will likely be copying and distributing some form of copyrighted material for the rest of our professional lives! I still find it somewhat confusing about which law trumps which when dealing with copyright issues regarding "educational use". Question: If we as a school can legally perform a piece of music in public, and even record it for personal use, we are not is violation of the copyright law (I really hope so!)? We can even copy audio works for personal use - this one seems dicey...? Does this mean that going to the library and loading songs onto my computer from a CD is fine, as long as it's for personal use? And finally, If I record my ensemble playing the musical (work) of a known composer, a sell it (for example, a high school Wind Ensemble CD with works written by the likes of Percy Granger and Eric Whitacre) we must pay royalties to the composers or destroy the recording? I like my high school W.E. CD and honestly, I'm not going to do that...

    The laws are still a little foggy to me, but I'll get there!

    Thanks for the helpful post!

  2. I agree with Caroline. Thanks for posting this Matt - it is highly useful to know exactly what we can and cannot do under copyright law. It seems that these sections of the law deal with copies of recorded or print material. Is there a section that deals with intellectual property? Is that relevant to performance and recording of music that has been "covered"?
    Would you mind posting the link where you found the copyright laws? I am interested to read more.

  3. Hi Ben and Caroline,

    Thanks for the comments! It was a lot of work to go through the Copyright Act, and there's a lot of stuff I didn't mention. I'll try to find that for you. But if you want to find it yourself, there is a link embedded in the first paragraph.