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Canada extends copyright term by 20 years

Canada extends copyright term by 20 years

Until December 30, copyright protection for original works of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic nature applied for the life of the artist, plus 50 years after his death.

Now, the new regulations apply for the life of the artist and 70 years after his death.

This change allows Canada to respect a commitment made under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement and ensures that the same rule will be applied in Canada and the United States, where the period of 70 years after the death of the artist has been in force since 1998.

This agreement gave Canada until December 31, 2022 to comply and it moved up that deadline by one day. In a statement from the office of Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the government said the change also puts Canada on a level playing field with many other countries like the UK and Australia.

Canada will continue to do its part to protect the interests of artists, creators and rights holders, while continuing to balance the needs of the industryindicates the statement.

This means that artistic works that could have been republished or reused without permission since January 1 will receive an additional 20 years of protection.

This has allowed, for example, numerous adaptations, reprints, ante-episodes and sequels to the work Anne of Green Gableswhich entered the public domain in the United States in 1983 and in Canada in 1992. The public domain also allows libraries, museums and archives to freely use works for historical research purposes, including online publication of archive of important documents from politicians and world leaders.

For example, copyright protection for some of the writings of former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who died in December 1972, will expire on January 1, 2043.

Copyright protection is not retroactive, but applies to any author, composer or screenwriter whose works would have been added to the public domain by 2043, which means that for 20 years nothing new will be added to the public domain in Canada.

This period touches the novels of Canadian authors like Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy, but also international writers like JRR Tolkien and Roald Dahl.

A decision criticized by academics

Writers’ associations are generally supportive of these changes, because the more certain creators are of being paid for their work, the more incentive they have to create.

Academics, librarians, archivists and museums, however, argue that this limits their ability to access and use hundreds of works, most of which no longer have any commercial value. The reality is that the vast majority of works that enter the public domain have very little, if any, commercial value. said Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and Electronic Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa.

And that’s one of the reasons why many others are really troubled by this extension, because so many works may have historical cultural value, but no longer have commercial value.

Mr. Geist also challenges the idea that the 50-year delay after death stifles creation.

He explained that in his opinion, no one has been shy about writing a great novel over the past few years and then woke up thinking he can now move on since their heirs have 20 more years of protection. after his death. People just don’t think that wayhe said.

He said the added protection had a business benefit for a small number of people, and that could have been solved with a opt-in clauseor obtaining consent from rights holders of works that still have commercial value. The latter could ask for an extension, gives as an example Mr. Geist.

He also said it extends the limits of access or use of so-called orphan works, those whose rights holder is not easily reached.

Government accused of acting discreetly

Mr Geist also accused the government of burying the amendment by placing it at the bottom of a nearly 450-page budget bill last spring. The government has not highlighted the copyright law changes in any of its documents regarding this bill.

There was also no government announcement when the cabinet decided in November to set the effective date for December 30. In total, the government issued 3,998 press releases in 2022 and none of them related to changes to copyright law.

Many people have literally woken up over the past two days to this problem and are shocked to learn that it is something that Canada planned and did because it received so little coverage and attention.a conclusion of M. Geist.

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