Ownership & Term


The author of a work is generally the first owner of copyright. While the Copyright Act does not define the term ‘author’, it is typically the person who expresses the idea in an original form. However, if a work is authored in the course of employment, the author's employer is the first owner of copyright. Ownership of copyright for a work created by an independent contractor or consultant will depend on the terms of the contract between the parties.

It is common practice for copyright owners to assign their rights in various commercial contexts. However, moral rights of an author are not assignable, though they may be waived.


The term of copyright in Canada for most works is the life of the author plus 50 years. Exceptions exist for anonymous or pseudonymous works, posthumous works, works of joint authorship, cinematographic works, Crown copyright, performer’s performances, sound recordings and communication signals. For example, in a work of joint authorship, the term of copyright is the lifetime of the author who dies last plus 50 years.