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What is copyright?
What is copyright?

“Copyright” is the term used to describe a number of legal rights that exist in original literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works, and in sound recordings, films, broadcasts and other creative works. Under copyright laws, these rights are exclusive to the copyright owner, and enable the copyright owner to control how their work is used and to prevent unauthorised use.

Originally, copyright laws allowed the creator of a work to prevent that work from being copied, but copyright laws have gradually been extended over time, and now allow copyright owners to prevent and control things like adaptation or public performance of the copyright work, inclusion of the work in a broadcast, or distribution of the work both physically and on the Internet. Because these rights are exclusive to the copyright owner, anyone wanting to do any of these things needs the permission of the copyright owner.

Copyright can exist in all sorts of things - for example, music, lyrics, photographs, artwork, books, speeches, TV programmes and movies. Also, what might appear to be a single work can include several different copyrights owned by various different people. For example, a music track by a signed artist will often include separate copyrights in the composition, the lyrics, and the sound recording. Copyright in the music and lyrics will usually be owned by the artist or music publishing company, and copyright in the sound recording will usually be owned by the artist’s record label. Use of that track, including any adaptation of the track or any uploading or sharing over the Internet, will require the permission of all of these copyright owners, either directly or through their representatives (for example, through a collecting society or performing rights organisation).

What rights does a copyright holder have?
What rights does a copyright holder have?

Copyright gives you more than just the exclusive right to copy your work. It actually gives you up to six separate rights, which you alone are exclusively free to either use, give away, or sell in any way you’d like. All of these rights are subject to limitations.

As a copyright holder, you alone have the rights to:

(1) reproduce (copy) the copyrighted work;
(2) prepare new versions and adaptations of you original copyrighted work;
(3) publicly distribute the copyrighted work;
(4) publicly perform the copyrighted work;
(5) publicly display the copyrighted work; and
(6) digitally perform copyrighted sound recordings.

What is copyright infringement, and how can I avoid it?
What is copyright infringement, and how can I avoid it?

Because the rights afforded by copyright law are exclusive to the copyright owner(s), you will infringe copyright if you do any of those things without the permission of the copyright owner(s) - for example, if you copy or adapt a copyright work, or make it available on the Internet.

The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to ensure that you don’t use anything created by anyone else. Simple as that.

If you do use someone else's work, make sure you have the necessary permissions – this will usually take the form of a licence from the copyright owner(s), which you may have to pay for. There are certain instances where you may be able to use excerpts of copyrighted material without a licence – for example, if you use a small part of someone else's work for the purposes of criticism or review, or if your use constitutes "fair use" under applicable law (particularly Canada and U.S. law) – however, discussion of these exceptions is beyond the scope of this guidance. If you intend to use any part of a copyright work in reliance on any of the statutory exceptions, you should seek legal advice first.

Here are some of the issues you might want to consider before uploading anything to CanadianMusicians:

For music uploads:
Can you answer “yes” to all of the following questions?
- Did you compose the music yourself?
- Did you write the lyrics yourself?
- Did you record and produce the track yourself or do you have permission from the producer or record label that made the recording?
- Do you have written permission from all copyright owners to use any samples contained in the track?

Can you answer “no” to all of the following questions?
- Were you signed to a record label when you recorded the track?
- Do you have a publishing deal?
- Are you a member of a performing rights organization or collecting society?
- Have you licensed your track to anyone else?
- Does the track contain the entirety or any part of someone else's song(s) Is it based on someone else’s song(s)?

For other sounds, including field recordings, podcasts, audiobooks or voice messages:
Can you answer “yes” to all of the following questions?
- Is the recording spontaneous, as opposed to being recited from a script, play or book (other than one written by you)?
- Is it a recording of your performance?
- Did you make the recording yourself?
- Do you have the permission of anyone else appearing in the recording to upload and share the recording on CanadianMusicians?

Can you answer “no” to all of the following questions?
- Is the recording rehearsed or recited from a script, play or book (other than one written by you)?
- Does the recording contain any music or excerpts from other copyright works (e.g. movie dialogue)?

Why should I officially copyright my own content?
Why should I officially copyright my own content?

As a creator, copyright is automatically granted to you at the time your work is created. You don't have to file any paperwork or publish the content online to own the copyright of your music. It is an automatic right that you have as the content creator.

However, it can be tricky if you ever need to prove that you are the rightful owner of your work. If there is ever a dispute over the ownership of your content, it can be very helpful to have documentation of your copyright ownership filed with an official organization to show proof that it is indeed your content.

Having your material officially registered for copyright protection can help prevent unwanted future legal trouble if someone decides to contest that you are the rights holder of your content.

Why was my cover version taken down for copyright infringement?
Why was my cover version taken down for copyright infringement?

Based on current copyright legislation, you always need permissions if you would like to cover a copyrighted song in public (even if you're just using a part of the song or have provided the vocals and played all the instruments), as is the case when publishing a track on CanadianMusicians.

While some producers and publishers are fine with members using their material, some others are not and do not want their works altered without explicit consent.

If you see that your cover version has been taken down on your Tracks page, please contact support if you believe the track should not have been taken down, and you would like to dispute or learn more about the removal.