What is Copyright?

Copyright is the right to make a copy of something you created yourself, including published and unpublished writings, photographs, sound recordings and audio-visual recordings. The creator or author of a work owns the copyright and they have the right to expect payment when someone else makes a copy of their creation.

Can Copyright Ownership be Transferred?

Yes. For example, donors can transfer the ownership of their copyright to the City of Toronto when they donate records to the Archives. Many donors, however, keep ownership of their copyright.

How Long Does Copyright Last?

Copyright lasts for different periods of time for different kinds of materials, and depending on whether or not the material was ever published. The Copyright Guideline provides details.

What Does “Research and Private Study” Mean?

The Copyright Act allows archives and libraries, under certain conditions, to provide researchers with a single copy of certain works for research or private study without the permission of the copyright owner.

What Does “Life of Author + 50” Mean?

This is a short-form expression to indicate that the term of the copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author or creator, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author died, and a further period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.

What Does “Fair Dealing” Mean?

The Copyright Act includes a fair dealing exception. The Act says that it is not an infringement of copyright to deal ‘fairly’ with a work for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. Unfortunately, the Act does not define what is ‘fair.’ A court would look at factors such as:

  • the quantity of the work copied
  • the nature of the work copied
  • how the copy was used
  • the value of what was copied, and
  • whether what was copied interferes with the sale of the original work

Copyright Guidelines for Different Types of Material