Protect your right

Copyright prohibits others from copying the whole or substantial part of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work without permission, with limited exceptions.


Copyright can subsist in original works ranging from books to computer source code to songs.


Our IP professionals are experienced in all aspects of copyright law, including:


  • the application process
  • assignment and licensing of copyright
  • policing the marketplace
  • acting on unauthorized use
  • commencing and defending contentious proceedings

Should you apply for copyright protection?


In general, copyright automatically subsists in an original work upon its creation. While there is no requirement to register your copyright to have protection in Canada, a certificate of registration is evidence that the work is protected by copyright, and evidence that the named owner is in fact the owner. This makes a registered copyright a valuable business asset.


Shapiro Cohen LLP will help you determine if applying for copyright protection is right for you, and can guide you through the application process in Canada and in other countries.

What are some common copyright pitfalls?


Because the author of a work is generally the first owner of copyright, businesses may run into trouble when a third party contractor is hired to create a logo, take a photograph, create a computer program, or otherwise generate content for use by the business, without appropriate assignments or licenses.


The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a work can be costly if it is found to infringe the owner’s copyright – and in most cases is completely avoidable if a business owner is properly advised of their rights. Similarly, the time and effort that goes into creating a copyrighted work should be justly rewarded, and an author needs to be aware of his or her rights in order to properly enforce them.


Shapiro Cohen LLP can assist with determining a business’ copyright protection needs, and with protecting and enforcing the rights of authors and owners alike.

FAQ & Case Studies

Copyright FAQ

What is covered by copyright?

Copyright applies to all original, dramatic, musical, artistic and literary works (including computer programs). It also applies to performances, communication signals and sound recordings.


  • literary works, e.g., books, pamphlets, computer programs and other works consisting of text;
  • dramatic works, e.g., films, plays, screenplays, scripts, etc.;
  • musical works, e.g., musical compositions; and.
  • artistic works, e.g., paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures, plans, etc.

What is not protected by copyright?

Copyright does not subsist in ideas, methods and systems.


This includes:

  • making or building things
  • scientific or technical methods or discoveries
  • business operations or procedures
  • mathematical principles – formulas, algorithms
  • any concept, process or method of operation

How long does a copyright last?

In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the lifetime of the author, plus 50 years.

What does 'the public domain' mean?

Works in the public domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited or are inapplicable.


Example: Although copyright in Shakespeare’s plays expired years ago, several editionsof his plays have been published containing added original materials, which are copyright protected as the authors have created new material.


This creates a new copyright in the additional original works, but not in the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright has expired.

How does copyright work internationally?

Generally, copyright is recognized in other countries due to international conventions. As a result, your copyright will be protected in other countries, but it is only protected under that country’s laws, which may be different from the level of protection you would get in Canada.

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Copyright Case Studies

In a recent copyright infringement case, an individual by the name of Nicholas Hernandez was ordered to pay $10,500,000 in damages: $10,000,000 in statutory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages, following a motion for default judgment.


Twentieth Century Fox holds copyright rights in the Simpsons and the Family Guy television programs. Mr. Hernandez copied these programs onto his computer and then uploaded them to websites for online distribution. He allegedly uploaded at least 700 episodes of both The Simpsons and Family Guy programs to the websites which included “Watch The Simpsons Online” ( and “Watch Family Guy Online” ( among other offending websites controlled by Hernandez. He was gaining financial benefit from such actions and his infringement was determined to be in bad faith.


Individual actions in order to distribute the episodes online were also deemed infringing activities taken separately, such as reproducing any substantial part of the programs, uploading copies on his computer or capturing broadcast television signals of said programs. Justice Campbell reasoned that the statutory damages elected by the plaintiff were not enough to punish the defendant’s misconduct and serve as a deterrence – punitive damages, together with an injunction against future infringement by Hernandez were warranted as well. Read the decision.


To view our article relating to this, please click here.

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