Last year, Bill C-19, the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No.1, received Royal Assent. The bill included amendments to the Copyright Act to extend the term of copyright protection for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works from 50 years to 70 years, after the end of the calendar year of the author's death. These amendments came into force on Dec. 30, 2022.
In the case of works of joint authorship, the term of copyright protection is extended to 70 years following the end of the calendar year of the death of the last surviving author. Bill C-19 is clear that the copyright term extension is not retroactive and therefore will not affect works that are already in the public domain before the amendments come into force. For copyright protected works that were scheduled to expire in 2022, the term of protection is extended by another 20 years.
The decision to extend the term of copyright protection fulfills one of Canada's commitments under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). The resulting changes to the Copyright Act were implemented in two stages, with an earlier set of amendments having come into force on July 1, 2020. The earlier amendments resulted in changes to the term of copyright for published anonymous, pseudonym and cinematographic works such that the copyright term was extended to, the earlier of, 50 to 75 years from the date of first publication or 75 to 100 years following the end of the calendar year in which the work was made. The term of protection for unpublished works was fixed to 75 years from the date of creation. The terms of protection for performers' performances and sound recordings were similarly extended at the same time.
The term of Crown Copyright remains unchanged and continues to be 50 years following the end of the calendar year of the first publication.
By extending the term of copyright protection from 50 to 70 years, Canada will be in line with many of its major trading partners, including: the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and the European Union.