This web page is currently being updated to reflect recent changes in Canadian copyright laws, specifically the adoption of the Copyright Modernization Act. For more information on the state of copyright in Canada, see the Government of Canada’s Balanced Copyright website.
Cinematographic works include "any works expressed by any process analogous to cinematography, whether or not accompanied by a soundtrack" (s. 2). The term video/DVD in this section refers to various storage formats for motion pictures, including VHS, beta and u-matic tape, as well as 16mm and 35mm films.
Canadian copyright on cinematographic works governs the right to:
Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright and can be used and copied freely. For dramatic cinematographic works (most feature films), copyright lasts for 50 years after the creator's death; for non-dramatic works (e.g. documentaries), copyright lasts for the remainder of the calendar year of publication plus 50 years. It can be difficult to determine who is the creator of a cinematographic work; the best way to find out who holds copyright and whether or not a title is in the public domain is to contact the production company, distributor or licensing agent. You may be able to find this information in the Internet Movie Database.
Videos/DVDs cannot be shown in public places, including classrooms, without public performance rights (s. 29.7 (3)), which are granted by the person who owns the copyright. A "public place" is not defined specifically in the Copyright Act but is a place that is not a private home, so, a classroom or student union building are considered public. Even if the video is being shown for educational purposes, and no admission is being charged, you must secure public performance rights. This applies even if the video was purchased from an American company.
If you plan to charge admission to a public showing of a video, special rules may apply, and you should contact the copyright holder to confirm arrangements.
Videos may be obtained from a variety of sources, both on and off-campus. Public performance rights (the rights to show the film in public), are distributed at the title level, not according to which company sells or distributes the video/DVD. For example, just because a video was purchased from a particular company (even if it specializes in educational films) does not necessarily mean it will come with public performance rights - rights for each title must be investigated. The information below can help you find out whether videos and DVDs have public performance rights.
Concordia University has public performance license agreements with Criterion and with Audio Cine Inc. Films covered by the agreements must be legal copies and may be obtained from a library, video/DVD store, or your own personal collection.
The Criterion license agreement covers all films from the producers/studios listed on the Criterion website with the exception of Mongrel Media. To find out if a film you would like to show in class is covered by this agreement, please check the list of producers/studios on the Criterion website.
The Audio Cine Films Inc., license agreement includes all films listed on the Audio Cine website . Films can be searched by title, director and genre.
Videos/DVDs generally cannot be copied without written permission from the copyright holder. Exceptions to this are works that are in the public domain, works that allow copying under licence, or if the use falls under fair dealing.
When using clips in one's own work, the following should be considered:
The Copyright Act was written before digital content was common and so does not address digital formats. However you can use the principles of the Act to determine how to proceed on issues relating to digital works.
Most online content will have a use agreement of some kind that must be consulted prior to showing in class, saving, or using in your own work. Even if the content is available freely on the Web, it is still covered by copyright and you may have to request permission to show it in class. For example, the CBC has an FAQ page for use of their digital content. For live television programs, see the section on Radio and Television Broadcasts.
Exceptions to this include digital content that is obtained by the Libraries, where a licence agreement has been negotiated.
You can reproduce and perform a copyrighted work, on the premises of an educational institution, if it is for a test or examination and is not commercially available.