Published January 10, 2007
QUESTION 1: Your organization hires a person to write a technical manual. It now wishes to allow affiliated clubs use and copy the manual. Can they do this?
QUESTION 2: Can a website be copyrighted?
QUESTION 3: Is it essential to register a copyright with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)?
QUESTION 4: Ownership of a copyright ends upon the creator’s death. True/False?
QUESTION 5: Are copyright and trademark the same thing?
Q1: If the person was hired as a contractor, the answer is no because copyright is owned by the creator of the work. The organization would have to seek an assignment of the copyright. The exception to this is in the case of an employee – where the work is created by an employee during the course of their work duties, the employer owns the copyright.
Q2: Yes, the look and design of a website can be copyrighted. This has important implications if your organization’s website is created by an independent contractor (see the answer to question 1).
Q3: No, copyright arises automatically when an idea is fixed in some tangible form. There is no copyright in an idea – copyright arises when the idea is put into tangible form (e.g., a book, a song, computer code, video, etc.). Registering the copyright confirms the date it arose and who owns it.
Q4: False. Under Canada’s Copyright Act, ownership of copyrights exists for the life of the owner plus 50 years. It then devolves to the public domain for public use.
Q5: No. Copyright is the expression of an original idea in a tangible form such as a painting, database, document, song, graphic or computer code. A trademark is a unique word, phrase, shape, design or combination of these. A trademark may encompass some copyrighted elements (such as a graphic image or slogan), but not all copyright materials are trademarks. Thus the new Swimming Natation Canada logo and the tag line 'Swimming to Win. Winning for Life' are trademarks that can be registered. The two different components of this logo (the graphic and the tag line) might also be copyrighted. There is sometimes a confusing interplay of the two concepts, but they are distinct and they are governed by two different laws in Canada (Copyright Act and Trademark Act).
Originally published: Centre for Sport and Law Newsletter (2007) Vol. 3(2)