What Types of Works does Copyright Protect?

How is a work defined within the meaning of the Copyright Act?

A work is an original creation expressed in a tangible form that can be perceived by the senses and likely to be produced or reproduced, in part or in whole. If I have an idea and I want to create a work based on that idea, I must give it shape, which means that I must set it either in writing, through images, through sounds or by any other form or shape.

The following are not considered as works:

Ideas, data, methods, concepts, inventions, discoveries, formulas, culinary recipes, names of people or companies, slogan, three-dimensional utilitarian objects like clothes, chairs and tables, and the outcome of the mechanical production of an activity.

What types of work are protected under the law?

The law does not give a definition of a work. However, it does mention the types of work that are protected like literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, whether they be created in the fields of literature, science or arts and whatever the format or form used to express it. Here are a few examples:

Visual works like drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, engravings, graphics, plans, architectural works, models and maps, among others.

Works set in writing like poems, stories, reports, monographs, documents, thesis, booklets, manuals, charts, letters and computer programs, among others.

Music composed with or without lyrics.

Works that can be recited, choreographies or mime (as long as they are set in writing or otherwise), cinema works, video and other multimedia works.

Compilations of works like, for example, encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, newspapers, journals, magazines, or the work in which the works or part of the works are incorporated.

What are the necessary conditions for a work to be protected by copyright in Canada?

The only condition is originality, which means that a work must be the result of the author’s skill and judgment, and be distinguishable from existing works.

Is it possible to create a work derived from another work or from many existing works?

Yes, it is possible to transform, translate, mix or re-create a new work from existing works. In this case, the created work is regarded as a new original work. However, it must be stated that one must first obtain the consent of the owner of the works before using them.

In order to be protected by copyright, must a work be complete or be published?

No. Copyright protects a work as soon as it is created as long as it is original, even if it unpublished or incomplete.