How to apply for a copyright in Canada

Recently, I was thinking, if I’m going to blow my money travelling to one con, it would be in San Diego.  So I contacted them to ask about getting a small press table.  It turns out there is a “jury” that decides on who gets these tables and you have to send in one publication with copyright dates 2013-2014 in order to quality for a 2014 table. So I started looking into how to apply for copyrights in Canada.

Definition of copyright from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office:

“Copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form.”

This copyright registration protects your work internationally, so it doesn’t matter which country you file it in.  You only do it once and you own the copyright for as long as you live, then 50 years after you die the copyright expires.  When you create a piece of work, you automatically own the copyright, but registering offers more protection legally.

1) Go to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website

You will find information on how to copyright things ranging from a book, poem, painting, musical score, performer’s performance and computer program.  There is a guide with basic information available which goes through the terminology and instructions.

Suprisingly, you don’t have to send in a copy of what you are copyrighting or even pictures.

This is why people keep giving me advice that before the book is published, you should print and send a copy of the manuscript to yourself via courier and then not open it.  This archived manuscript will be opened in court if anyone tries to say that your work belongs to them and sues you for the copyright.

2) Call them if you have questions

Hours 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
Phone 1-866-997-1936

My question: If I want to do a book of concept art with different pieces from my artists, do I have to copyright each piece of art in the book?

Answer: No, you do not have to copyright each piece of art.  Once you assemble the compilation and you copyright the whole thing, each piece of art can be used separately and the copyright still belongs to you.

3) Register the copyright…wait, you can’t just register!  Turns out you have to go to the Industry Canada website and open a free account there before you can do anything.

I was fretting about this one.  As an individual can I really go onto Industry Canada and register an account?  I started emailing my entrepreneurial Viking husband who told me to stop emailing him for advice as he was busy.  So I took the plunge and went into the system…

And I discovered that yes, anyone can just apply for an Industry Canada account.  In fact, they didn’t even ask for a business registration number or anything.  In general, the books will be published under my husband’s company.  To be honest, I’m too lazy to incorporate myself (registering a business, opening a business account and dreaded tax documentation)…hopefully he won’t divorce me if things go really well with the books and I’ll be ok!

4)  OK, let’s register this book!

Back to Canadian Intellectual Property Office website – you click on the “forms” page and “copyright” to access the registration forms, pay fees via credit card.  You can do it cheaper online or mail it in via a paper pdf form.

Fees when paid online is $50 Cdn or $65 Cdn via paperwork.

I looked at the US Copyright Office as well and their fee was only $35USD.  But everything else such as getting a paper copy of the copyright was super expensive, so I suppose there is a trade off…

Forging ahead, I discovered that you can only copyright something 3 months ahead of time.  Or you can copyright something unpublished, but there was no Q & A about what happens if you do publish it.

In the end I took a break here – since San Diego needs to see a copyright number in the book with a date, this is something I can’t provide until Jan 2014 or Feb 2014 at the earliest.  The deadline for table registration was Oct 2013.

So I’ll copyright the book next year and try to get a table in the future when I have more books to sell.

The idea of going to San Diego scares me a bit too, considering their attendance is about 130,000 – it’s a lot of free stuff you have to give away for promotion!  I worry about people coming up to the booth and then complaining they didn’t get a freebie…sigh…not selling any books would probably be just as embarressing as well.

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