Whether you’re an artist, musician, author, or applied researcher, your works are protected by copyright. This section provides creators with answers to frequently asked questions about their rights at Langara and under Canadian copyright law.

Copyright owners have the sole legal right to:

  • Produce or reproduce the work    

  • Perform the work in public    

  • Publish the work    

  • Translate the work    

  • Adapt the work to another format (e.g. novel to film, film to play)    

  • Record a literary, dramatic or musical work    

  • Broadcast the work    

  • Exhibit an artistic work    

  • Rent out a computer program, or a recording of a musical work    

  • Sell a work in the form of a tangible object (in certain circumstances)    

  • Authorize others to do any of these acts

Reference: Copyright Act, Section 3(1)

Economic rights include the right to produce, reproduce, present, communicate or publish the work, and authorize others to do these things. They also protect the copyright owner's right to benefit financially from their work. Creators can waive, license (temporarily), or assign (permanantly) these rights to another party through a contract.

Reference: Copyright Act, Section 3(1)

Moral rights belong exclusively to the creator and include the right to:

  • Attribution - the creator's right to claim authorship for the work

  • Integrity - the creator's right to oppose changes to the work that could harm their reputation

  • Association - the creator's right to control activities associated with the work

Creators may waive their moral rights, but cannot license (temporarily) or assign (permanently) them to another party.

Reference: Copyright Act, Sections 14.1 and 14.2

Not necessarily. A work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is fixed in physical or digital format. The copyright symbol we are accustomed to seeing (©) is a visual reminder that a work is protected by copyright.

Creators may register copyright with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This is optional, but serves as proof of ownership should questions arise.

Not necessarily. The creator of a work is considered the first copyright owner. They can, however, choose to waive, license (temporarily) or assign (permanently) their rights to another party, such as a publisher, through a contract. When publishing your work, see the Scholarly Publication & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) website for information about negotiating your rights as an author. 

For works created during the course of employment, the employer usually owns copyright. According to Langara's Intellectual Property Policy (B3006) and LFA Collective Agreement, Langara instructors own copyright in the works they create, including class handouts, lecture slides, conference papers, etc.

Yes. Copyright aims to balance users' rights with those of copyright owners. For this reason, Canadian copyright law includes some limitations on creators' rights.  

Copyright lasts for the life of the creator +50 years (+70 years for sound recordings). Once it expires, works enter the public domain, where they can be used freely without payment or permission.

The Copyright Act also contains exceptions to the rights of copyright owners, such as fair dealing. These exceptions allow for freer exchange of information and ideas by permiting specific uses of copyright-protected content (for example, research and private study) without payment or permission from the copyright owner. 

For a full list of exceptions, see Section 29 of the Copyright Act.

Yes. Creators have many options today in terms of how they share their work. 

Open access is a new mode of scholarly publishing, in which research is made freely available via the internet. This represents a shift from the traditional publishing model, in which commercial publishers restrict access to scholarly content through fee-based subscriptions. For a list of open access journals in your field, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals

Similarly, open educational resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others." This includes course materials, open textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other materials that facilitate access to knowledge (1).

Creative Commons licenses allow creators to retain certain rights, while waiving others. For example, a photographer might waive their right to benefit financially from their work, but retain the right to attribution. In doing so, creators allow freer and more flexible use of their works than is permitted under traditional copyright regimes. See the Creative Commons website for a full list of licensing options.

For more information, see the Alternatives Guide.

Copyright collectives administer copyrights and related rights on behalf of copyright owners in a particular field. In addition to collecting and distributing royalties, collectives are commonly responsible for granting permission to use their members' works and for negotiating the conditions of those uses.

There are over thirty copyright collectives in Canada, representing authors, composers, publishers, writers, photographers, musicians, and performers. The activities of copyright collectives are overseen by the Copyright Board of Canada.

The internet has made copyright infringement easier than ever before. Here are some ways copyright owners can protect their intellectual property:

  1. Use technological protection measures (TPMs). TPMs are technologies that control and/or restrict the use of and access to online content. Examples of TPMs include:
    • Digital watermarks (text or patterns inserted into digital images)
    • Encryption (inhibits copying of digital files and physical media)
  2. Define your terms of use. Creative Commons licenses allow copyright owners to clearly communicate what uses of their work they permit. Alternatively, copyright owners may include a statement outlining terms of use. For example, a poet may state that works posted to their website may not be used for educational purposes without permission (see Copyright Act, Section 30.04).
  3. Monitor online use of your work. Copyright owners today have numerous free and subscription-based tools at their disposal to help detect online duplication of their works. Here are a few examples:
    • Copyscape. Enter the URL for your website and Copyscape will search the web for copies of your content.
    • TinEye Reverse Image Search. Upload your image or point Tineye to the URL where it can be found online and it will search the web for copies of your image (including near matches that have been cropped, recolored, scaled, etc.
  4. Register your copyright. Copyright protection is automatic but owners may also wish to register their work with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). This serves as a record of copyright ownership should a need arise.
  5. Take action. If you notice that your work is being used illegally, contact the copyright infringer (or service provider) and ask that the content be taken down (for online content) or licensed legally.