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Protection and ownership

Copyrightable works

What works are eligible for copyright protection in your jurisdiction?

Copyright law protects every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work. Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts or themes; it protects the expression thereof.

While the Copyright Act does not provide an exhaustive list of works eligible for copyright protection, there are many examples of copyright protectable works specifically identified in the act. These include:

  • compilations;
  • books;
  • pamphlets and other writings;
  • lectures;
  • dramatic or dramatic-musical works;
  • musical works;
  • translations;
  • illustrations;
  • sketches; and
  • plastic works relative to:
    • geography;
    • topography;
    • architecture; or
    • science.

Artistic works include:

  • paintings;
  • drawings;
  • maps;
  • charts;
  • plans;
  • photographs;
  • engravings (including etchings, lithographs, woodcuts and prints);
  • sculptures;
  • works of artistic craftsmanship;
  • architectural works; and
  • compilations of artistic works.

Literary works include:

  • tables;
  • computer programs; and
  • compilations of literary works.

Dramatic works include:

  • any piece for recitation, choreographic work or mime, the scenic arrangement or acting form of which is fixed in writing or otherwise;
  • any cinematographic work; and
  • any compilation of dramatic works.

Musical works include any work of music or musical composition – with or without words – and any compilation thereof.

The Copyright Act also protects performers’ performances, sound recordings and communication signals that are broadcasted.

Are there any special provisions for the protection of non-artistic works (eg, software and databases)?

Yes. The Copyright Act has specific provisions dealing with the protection of literary works, dramatic works and musical works in addition to artistic works. The act defines ‘literary works’ as including tables, computer programs and compilations. The term ‘computer programs’ is specifically defined in the Copyright Act, which states that the incorporation of a computer program into an integrated circuit product may constitute an infringement.

The act provides specific instances where the reproduction of a computer program does not constitute a copyright infringement.

Are any works explicitly excluded from copyright protection?

While the Copyright Act does not explicitly exclude any work from protection, there is no entitlement to copyright outside of the copyright legislation. Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts or themes; it protects the expression thereof.

Related IP rights

Can copyrightable works be protected by other IP rights (eg, trademarks and designs)?

Copyrightable works may be protected by other IP rights if they meet the applicable requirements for protection.

Significantly, the Copyright Act contains provisions that specifically exclude from infringement the reproduction of a design applied to a useful article for which more than 50 articles have been produced. There are exceptions to this exclusion, including when the artistic work is used as or for a trademark.

This means that cumulative or alternative protection of copyrightable works by other IP rights is not only possible, but desirable as part of an effective IP protection strategy.

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