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Crown Copyright - FAQ

1. What is copyright?

Copyright is an author/creator's exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish and sell a work.

2. Where can I obtain a copy of the Canadian Copyright Act?

Related regulations can be found in the Copyright Act.

3. Who owns copyright?

The general rule is that the author/creator is the first owner of copyright, subject to any agreement between parties that states otherwise. The owner can give, assign, or license copyright in parts or in its entirety. There are special rules for works created by employees that vest copyright in the employer, and for commissioned photographs, portraits or engravings that vests copyright in the person commissioning the work as long as the creator is paid for the work.

4. What types of work does copyright protect?

The copyright law protects seven categories of works: literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic, as well as sound recordings, performer's performances and communication signals.

5. What types of works are not protected by copyright?

Titles, names, slogans and short word combinations are usually not protected by copyright. As well, ideas and facts are not protected. Works in which copyright has been given to the public and works in which the copyright has expired, are not protected by copyright.

6. How long does copyright protection last?

Copyright lasts for the life of the author/creator plus 50 years. Copyright protection always ends on December 31 of the last year of protection.

7. How long does Crown copyright protection last?

Crown copyright lasts from the date of publication of a work plus 50 years thereafter.

8. If a work does not have a © symbol, does that mean it is not protected by copyright?

No. In Canada, a work is protected by copyright automatically when it is created. There is no need to mark the work with a copyright symbol, ©.

9. Under which conditions would an individual not require permission to reproduce Government of Canada works?

9.1 When permission is not required

Permission to reproduce Government of Canada works, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes, is not required, unless otherwise specified in the material you wish to reproduce.

A reproduction means making a copy of information in the manner that it is originally published – the reproduction must remain as is, and must not contain any alterations whatsoever.

The terms personal and public non-commercial purposes mean a distribution of the reproduced information either for your own purposes only, or for a distribution at large whereby no fees whatsoever will be charged.

The term cost-recovery means charging a fee for the purpose of recovering printing costs and other costs associated with the production of the reproduction.


You must comply with the specific non-commercial reproduction requirements set forth hereunder.

  • Exercise due diligence in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced.
  • Indicate both the complete title of the work reproduced, as well as the author organization.
  • Indicate that the reproduction is a copy of an official work that is published by the Government of Canada and that the reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.

9.2 When permission is required

Permission is always required when the work is being revised, adapted, or translated regardless if the purpose of the reproduction is for personal or public non-commercial distribution, or for cost-recovery purposes.

Permission is always required when the work being reproduced will be distributed for commercial purposes.

10. What are the type of permission that can be granted?



To reproduce a Government of Canada work in a different format from that in which it was originally published by the Government of Canada. One example is the action of reproducing a paper format publication as a CD-ROM with the content of the work remaining as originally published but presented in a different format.


To alter or modify a Government of Canada work by amending the original content, possibly resulting in changes to the essence of the original content or to the message intended by the Government of Canada.


Making a copy of information in the manner that it is originally published – the reproduction must remain as is, and must not contain any alterations whatsoever.


To translate the information/work into a different language than originally published by the Government of Canada.

11. What are the type of Licenses that can be granted?

Type of Licenses


means that there is no limit to the number of licenses that can be granted. A non-exclusive license is the most common type of license issued by the Government of Canada in licensing works protected under Crown copyright.

When a Government of Canada work is licensed on a non-exclusive basis it means that the Crown reserves the copyright and grants rights to the licensee for a specific purpose, duration and territory.


license the Government of Canada reserves its rights to make use of and copy its own work, but agrees not to license any other person than the sole licensee.


This means that the person receiving the permission/license will be the only one with the rights to use the work. This even prevents the person who grants the permission from reproducing his own work. This is seen as a disguised assignment, abandonment or sale of copyright.

For Government of Canada works the term exclusive may be used as long as it does not qualify the entire license agreement, and as long as the author department is aware that it is also preventing itself from using the work in areas where it has granted exclusivity, for example, a language, territory, duration, medium, or a combination of these. Exclusive licenses for the purpose of licensing out Crown copyrighted works are rarely granted by the Government of Canada.

12. Should I charge Royalty Fees?
  • In general, the Government of Canada (GC) will collect royalty fees when the GC information reproduced represents a significant percentage of the end-product (an end-product of 100 pages containing 80 pages reproduced from GC information).
  • Please note that instead of collecting royalty fees, some departments and agencies choose to waive such fees in lieu of exchange of services, for example, free access to a licensee's database
  • The GC will not collect any royalty fees should the GC information contained in the end-product represent a minimal percentage of the end-product (an end-product of 100 pages containing only 30 pages reproduced from GC information).
13. Is permission required to reproduce federal laws, regulations or court decisions?

Anyone may, without charge or request for permission, reproduce enactments and consolidations of enactments of the Government of Canada, and decisions and reasons for decisions of federally constituted courts and administrative tribunals, provided due diligence is exercised in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced and the reproduction is not represented as an official version.

Please refer to: Reproduction of Federal Law Order

14. Who holds copyright in a document prepared by a Government of Canada employee?

Section 12 of the Copyright Act provides that the Crown owns the copyright in works that are prepared or published by or under the direction or control of the Crown or any government department, subject to any agreement stating otherwise.

However, Government of Canada employees have moral rights in the works they create, unless they choose to waive these rights.

15. What are third-party materials?

Third-party materials are works that have been included in the work of an author/creator who does not hold the copyright in those reproductions. An example of this would be a photograph taken by a private citizen that was incorporated in a text written by a Government of Canada employee. Copyright in the text would belong to the Crown, but the private citizen, or third-party, would hold copyright to the photograph.

16. Is permission needed to reproduce Government of Canada symbols such as corporate signatures, the Canada wordmark, the Arms of Canada, and the Canadian flag?

All Government of Canada symbols are protected under the Trade-marks Act. The Arms of Canada, the Government of Canada signature, and the Canada wordmark are exclusive trademarks of the Government of Canada. Individuals or institutions external to the Government of Canada cannot use these marks without prior authorization. Requests for permission should be forwarded to:

Federal Identity Program
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
300 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5
Telephone: 613-957-2533
Facsimile: 613-946-5187

Canadians are free to use and display the National Flag of Canada as they wish. However, the Trade-marks Act protects the National Flag of Canada against unauthorized commercial use. Requests to use the flag should be addressed to:

Director Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion
Department of Canadian Heritage
Ottawa ON K1A 0M5
Telephone: 819-994-1616
Facsimile: 819-997-8550

17. Where can I obtain information about how copyright is administered within the Government of Canada?

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has developed the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada that includes procedures and requirements for numerous communication activities, one of which is Copyright and Licensing.

For information, please refer to the:

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