Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Canada

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Canada relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Canada must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Canada and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from Canada, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.


Canada was formed as a federal dominion in 1867, became largely independent of the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster of 1931, and became fully independent with the Canada Act of 1982.

Canada has been a member of the Berne Convention since 10 April 1928, the Universal Copyright Convention since 10 August 1962, the World Trade Organization since 1 January 1995 and the WIPO treaty since 13 August 2014.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) (consolidated version incorporating all amendments up to June 19, 2017) as the main copyright law enacted by the legislature of Canada.[1]

WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database.[2]

As a result of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) on 23 June 2022 the Canadian Copyright Act was amended via Bill C-19 to extend the term of copyright from life of the author plus a period of 50 years following the end of the calendar year in which that author dies to a period of 70 years. The amendment did not extend the term for Crown Copyright, nor did it "revive" the copyright of works that have entered the public domain prior to the amendment coming into force.[3] On 17 November 2022 Orders in Council 2022-1219 fixed 30 December 2022 as the day on which Division 16 of Part 5 of Bill C-19 came into force.[4][5] Relatedly, due to CUSMA a 25 year extension previously went into effect for anonymous works on 1 July 2020 per Orders in Council 2020-0215.[6]

General rules

All photographs (except those subject to Crown Copyright, for which see below) taken before 1 January 1949 are in the public domain. For works from after that time, or non-photographs, the Copyright Act states a copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years following the end of the calendar year of death (section 6), however, since the 20-year copyright extension in 2022 was not retroactive, the copyright term has expired for works where the author died before 1972. If the work is anonymous or pseudonymous then the copyright lasts either 75 years following publication or 100 years after the making of the work, whichever is earlier (section 6.1), provided the authorship does not become known in that timeframe.

Works subject to Crown Copyright enter the public domain 50 years after publication, except for certain very rare exceptions (see Wikipedia Crown copyright).

Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Currency

OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK "The Bank of Canada is the registered copyright owner of all design elements of Canadian bank notes [...] The Bank's written permission for the reproduction of bank note images must be obtained before the image is reproduced." The sole exception is that "It is not necessary to request the Bank's permission to use bank note images for film or video purposes, provided that the images are intended to show a general indication of currency, and that there is no danger that the images could be misused." Other images of Canadian currency might still be permitted on local Wikipedia projects under fair dealing.

Counterfeiting law will not apply to any printed replica of Canadian printed money that is "less than 3/4 or greater than 1 1/2 times the length or width of the bank note; and in black and white or only one-sided."[7]

Coins are copyrighted by the Royal Canadian Mint. There are charges for educational and commercial use, so they cannot be shown on Commons before the expiration of fifty years.[8]

De minimis

See also: Commons:De minimis

Subsection 30.7 of the Canadian Copyright Act, 1985 states:

It is not an infringement of copyright to incidentally and not deliberately

(a) include a work or other subject-matter in another work or other subject-matter; or

(b) do any act in relation to a work or other subject-matter that is incidentally and not deliberately included in another work or other subject-matter.

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

OOjs UI icon check-constructive.svg OK for 3D works and "works of artistic craftsmanship": {{FoP-Canada}}
OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK usually for 2D works
Under Section 32.2 (1)(b) of the Canadian Copyright Act 1985, it is not an infringement of copyright for any person to reproduce, in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or cinematographic work … (i) an architectural work (defined as any building or structure or any model of a building or structure"); or

  • (ii) "a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship or a cast or model of a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship, that is permanently situated in a public place or building".

Canadian law was originally derived from UK concepts and some of Commons:Copyright rules by territory/United Kingdom may therefore be of relevance, in particular the restricted legal meaning of "work of artistic craftsmanship". Some non-sculptural works can qualify for Canadian FOP under this clause, such as Body Shop Yonge.jpg for example. The freedom provided by the quoted section does not apply to typical two-dimensional works such as paintings, murals, advertising hoardings, maps, posters or signs. These cannot be uploaded to Commons without a license from the copyright holder even if they are permanently located in a public place, unless they are in the public domain.


See also: Commons:Stamps

Copyrighted There is no special provision in the copyright law for postage stamps. Section 12 of the 1921 Copyright Act of Canada states that for government works (work that is, or has been, prepared or published by or under the direction or control of Her Majesty or any government department) the copyright is 50 years following the end of the calendar year during which the work has been published. This is known as Crown copyright.

There are also special non-copyright regulations which apply: see,_c._1292/page-1.html.

For stamps published more than 50 years ago (before 1st of January 1973) use {{PD-Canada-stamp}}.

Threshold of originality

See also: Commons:Threshold of originality

Unlike other common law countries, Canada's threshold of originality veers closer to that of the United States. CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada explicitly rejected the "sweat of the brow" doctrine for being too low of a standard, but at the same time, stated that the creativity standards for originality were too high:

A creativity standard implies that something must be novel or non-obvious — concepts more properly associated with patent law than copyright law. And for these reasons, I conclude that an “original” work under the Copyright Act is one that originates from an author and is not copied from another work. That alone, however, is not sufficient to find that something is original. In addition, an original work must be the product of an author’s exercise of skill and judgment. The exercise of skill and judgment required to produce the work must not be so trivial that it could be characterized as a purely mechanical exercise."

The same case also stated:

For a work to be “original” within the meaning of the Copyright Act, it must be more than a mere copy of another work. At the same time, it need not be creative, in the sense of being novel or unique. What is required to attract copyright protection in the expression of an idea is an exercise of skill and judgment. By skill, I mean the use of one’s knowledge, developed aptitude or practised ability in producing the work. By judgment, I mean the use of one’s capacity for discernment or ability to form an opinion or evaluation by comparing different possible options in producing the work. This exercise of skill and judgment will necessarily involve intellectual effort.

See also


  1. a b Canada Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights)[1], WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization, 2018
  2. Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) (consolidated version incorporating all amendments up to June 19, 2017)[2], Canada, 2017
  3. Canada: A Score For "life Plus 70": Canada Now One Step Closer To Extending The Term Of Copyright[3], Mondaq, 2022-07-07
  4. Orders in Council 2022-1219[4], Government of Canada, 2022-11-17
  5. Upcoming changes to the term of copyright protection in Canada[5], Simon Fraser University, 2022-11-30
  6. Orders in Council 2020-0215[6], Government of Canada, 2020-04-03
  7. Bank of Canada - Reproduction of banknotes
  8. Royal Canadian Mint - Intellectual property
Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer