What is a copyright?

Copyright is the embodiment or expression of an idea. The idea must be expressed in some form. Ownership of the idea expressed in some form allows the owner the exclusive right to:

  • use or not;
  • copy;
  • publish;
  • translate;
  • convert;
  • adapt;
  • record;
  • broadcast;
  • reproduce; or
  • allow or prevent others to do the same in Canada.

The forms in which copyrights may exist include:

  • literary (a Harry Potter® book or a video game – Game Boy®);
  • dramatic (Film – Gone with the Wind, screenplay to Three Men & a Baby);
  • musical score (Under My Thumb by the Rolling Stones); and
  • artistic work (architectural design of the National Gallery of Canada).

As with a trademark or industrial design, copyrights form part of the umbrella of creative rights known as intellectual property.