Crown Copyright Request

When to apply for Crown Copyright Clearance

Crown copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic, and musical works as well as sound recordings, performances by performers, and communication signals that have been created under the direction and control of the Government of Canada.

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.

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 here under.

  • 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.

Submit a request

To request copyright clearance, please contact the department responsible for the information you wish to revise, adapt, modify or translate.

For contact information, please consult the Government of Canada's Department Directory.

For further assistance, please contact the Government of Canada Help Centre:

Telephone: 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232)

TTY: 1-800-926-9105

From outside Canada: Call 1 800 O-Canada from abroad

About copyright

What is copyright?

Crown copyright is governed by section 12 of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42)[1], which covers all works that are "prepared or published by or under the direction or control of His Majesty or any government department." [1] It lasts until the end of 50 years after the year of creation.

Copyright is the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish and sell a work. In other words, the Copyright Act provides copyright protection to what is referred to as authors/creators.

Under copyright legislation, the author/creator is the party that not only writes something, but that also takes a photograph, designs computer software, produces audiovisual materials, composes music, designs maps, or draws plans or illustrations in either paper format or other mediums.

It is important to note that the Copyright Act does not protect ideas, concepts, or themes, but that it does protect the language and words used to express such ideas, concepts and themes.

In Canada, copyright in a work comes into existence when a work is created. Under Canadian copyright legislation rights of the author/creator are protected whether or not he or she has marked the work with the standard copyright symbol "©".

What types of works are protected?

Copyright in works are divided into seven categories.

Literary work (Covers works in electronic and paper formats)
Memoranda, email messages, journals, books, magazines, text books, talking books (the underlying work, not the recorded voice), periodicals, monographs, government records and reports, pamphlets, newspapers, poetry, genealogical materials, letters, statistics, computer software, statutes, law reports, judicial decisions, forms, court records, databases, published and unpublished research papers, brokers' reports, stock reports, annual reports, manuscripts, microforms (print on plastic), theses, conference proceedings, industry standards, Braille, postings to Internet newsgroups, large print materials, compilations of literary works on CD-ROMs and databases.
Dramatic work
Video recordings, documentaries, films, radio, television and cable programs, plays, choreography, CD-ROMs containing compilations of dramatic works.
Artistic work
Patterns, art slides, maps, atlases, paintings, architectural drawings, plans, stage and costume designs, digital images, drawings, photographs, charts, mosaics, art prints, compilations of artistic works on CD-ROMs and on Websites.
Musical work
Sheet music, songs with or without words, audiocassettes, audio CDs.
Sound recording
CDs, talking books, oral history tapes, vinyl albums, phonographs, audio books, audio cassettes, papers recorded at seminars, audio tapes of speeches and lectures, sound effects, spoken word recordings, language cassettes for ESL, compilations of sound recordings on CDs.
Performer's performance
Recorded performances of actors, authors, singers, musicians and dancers on tapes, cassettes, CDs, CD-ROMs, video recordings and films, compilations of performances by performers on records, CDs and in audiovisual formats.
Communication signal
Television and radio signals

Who owns copyright?

As a general rule, the author/creator is the first owner of copyright in a work. Where permission to use copyrighted material is needed, it is only the author/creator who can permit usage of his works. The author/creator of a work is furthermore, the only party that can sell, license or give away copyright. The author/creator can also transfer copyright in his works in its entirety or in parts.

Thus, ownership of copyright is like a chain, with the author/creator being the first owner, therefore being the first link in the chain. Links are added each time the author/creator sells, licenses or gives away all or part of the copyright.


Although an author/creator is the first owner of copyright in a work, there are exceptions.

Government of Canada works
Unless otherwise specified, copyright in works prepared by or under the direction or control of the Government of Canada (Crown) is owned by the Crown.
Works created by employees
Where an author/creator is employed, and the work is made as part of that employment, the employer instead of the author/creator is the first owner of the copyright.
Sound recordings
Copyright in a sound recording belongs to the maker of the recording instead of the author/creator. A maker is the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the first fixation of the sounds are undertaken.
Performances by performers
Copyright in the performances of actors, singers, dancers and musicians belong to the performer.
Communication signals
Copyright in a signal emitted by a broadcaster belongs to the broadcaster of the signal.

The Reproduction of Federal Law Order

As the result of the Order In Council that was passed in January of 1997, there is no requirement to seek permission to reproduce primary legal information of the Government of Canada and there are no applicable fees. The Reproduction of Federal Law Order applies only to Government of Canada legislation, statutes, regulations, court decisions and tribunal decisions and authorizes anyone, unless otherwise specified, to copy federal legislation, statutes, regulations, court decisions and tribunal decisions without the usual restrictions that govern Crown copyright materials, provided that one is careful to ensure the accuracy of the materials reproduced and that the reproduction is not represented as an official version.

The Reproduction of Federal Law Order does not apply to any materials that have been copyrighted privately or separately by a third party, and that happens to have been included with, added to, or referred to in the Government of Canada legislation, statute, regulation and/or decision. An example of this would extend to the reproduction of added-value features such as the captions of headnotes, footnotes, summaries and additional comments which are added to decisions handed down by federally constituted courts and tribunals. These added-value features are not included in the Order and therefore, reproduction is prohibited without having secured written authorization.

Physical ownership of a work versus ownership of copyright

There is a difference between owning a physical object and owning copyright. Ownership of a physical object does not include ownership of the copyright of that object. For example, the purchase of a magazine, book, photograph, map, film, or sound recording does not mean that you also own copyright of these objects. Therefore, in order to use the physical object outside of its intended purpose, you are obliged under the Copyright Act to obtain written permission from the author/creator. Failure to do so could be deemed an infringement of copyright.

How long does copyright last?

As per the Copyright Act, copyright in a work exists for the life of the author/creator, the remainder of the calendar year in which he is deceased, plus fifty years after the end of that calendar year.

For Crown copyrighted works, there is a slight difference. Section 12 of the Copyright Act stipulates:

12. Without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Crown, where any work is, or has been, prepared or published by or under the direction or control of His Majesty or any government department, the copyright in the work shall, subject to any agreement with the author, belong to His Majesty and in that case shall continue for the remainder of the calendar year of the first publication of the work and for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year. [S.C. 1993, c. 44, s. 60(1)]

Appropriate Government of Canada Copyright Identification

© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of (legal departmental name), (year of publication).

Works in the public domain

Public domain refers to works that belong to the public. Works in the public domain can be used free of charge and do not require written permission from the author/creator.

Works can be in the public domain for a variety of reasons. Examples: the term of the copyright has expired, the work was not eligible for copyright protection in the first place, or the copyright owner has authorized the public to use the work without permission or payment.

Some examples of works in the public domain are explained below.

Titles, names, slogans, short word combinations:

To be protected, a work must be something substantial. Sometimes an original and distinctive title can be protected.

Copyright protects the expression of an idea but does not extend to the idea itself. Until an idea is expressed in a fixed form (i.e. paper, electronic or digital media), there is no copyright protection.
It is the expression of facts that is protected by copyright, not the facts themselves. For example, the facts in a magazine article are in the public domain. Anyone can use those facts as long as they do not copy the way the author of the article has expressed them. As long as you use your own words, you will not infringe copyright.
Expired copyright:
When the term of copyright protection ends or expires, works fall into the public domain. A work in the public domain is free for everyone to use without permission or payment of royalties. In Canada, you can even modify public domain works without permission.

Moral rights

There is a provision in the Copyright Act (R.S.C., Chapter C-42, Section 14), which sets out the moral rights of an author/creator. Moral rights are personal to an author/creator regardless of who owns copyright. Unless an author/creator waives his moral rights, these rights cannot be assigned.

Moral rights exist for the same period of time as the copyright in a work.

An author/creator may exercise the following moral rights as provided for in the Copyright Act:

Right of Paternity
This right includes the right to claim authorship, the right to remain anonymous, or the right to use a pseudonym or pen name.
Right of Integrity
In the case of a work being adapted, modified or translated, the author/creator's right of integrity must be respected. As stipulated in the Copyright Act, an author/creator's right to the integrity of his work is violated if the work is a distortion, mutilation or modification of the work that is prejudicial to the honor or reputation of the author/creator.
Right of Association
Part of the Right of Integrity is an author's/creator's Right of Association. This means that an author/creator has the right to prevent anyone from using his work in association with a product, service, cause, or institution.

Violation of copyright

Infringement is the legal word for breach or violation of the rules in the copyright law. There are two kinds of infringements: direct and indirect.
Indirect infringement
Indirect infringement refers to persons who deal with infringing copies, or who, without legal authority, permit a public performance of a work. These provisions usually concern commercial dealings through sales of copies, commercial distribution, and trade.
Direct infringement
Direct infringement is where someone, without permission, does something only the copyright owner has the right to do or authorize. For example, only the copyright owner has the right to make a copy or authorize the making of a copy. When a person makes a copy this is direct infringement unless permission is obtained or an exception applies.


There are consequences for breaking any law. Breaking or infringing the copyright law is no different. The consequences of infringing the copyright law can be civil or criminal, and are set out in the copyright legislation.

For example, a civil court may decide that money be paid as compensation for damages caused by unauthorized use of a copyright work. This civil remedy is the most common and frequently-sought type of remedy.

Another type of civil remedy is an injunction to prevent or stop infringing activities. A court has the authority to order the infringing party to account for the profit made from infringing activities and to order that all infringing copies become the property of the copyright owner.

A unique feature of the civil remedy system in the Copyright Act is a statutory limit on the amount of damages that a court can award to a copyright owner who has not authorized a collective society to license the photocopying of his or her work. Damages are limited to the amount the copyright owner would have received from a collective, either under an agreement or under a tariff set by the Copyright Board of Canada.

Infringement of the Copyright Act can also have criminal consequences. These remedies in the Copyright Act involve fines and possible imprisonment. The Act provides for a maximum fine of $1,000,000 where the offence is a serious one. The criminal sections in the Copyright Act are traditionally used to deal with commercial piracy. Examples most frequently encountered are copying videotapes/DVD in order to rent or sell them, and selling or dealing in illegal copies of video games, compact discs, computer programs, or music.

Frequently asked questions

What is copyright?
Copyright is an author/creator's exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish and sell a work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How long does Crown copyright protection last?
Crown copyright lasts from the date of publication of a work plus 50 years thereafter.
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, ©.
Under which conditions would an individual not require permission to reproduce Government of Canada works?

Permission is always required to reproduce copyrighted works, except when:

  • The work is in the public domain.
  • The copyright has expired.
  • The work is covered under the Reproduction of Federal Law Order, which allows for the reproduction of legislation, statutes, regulations, decisions of federally-constituted courts and tribunals, and the reasons for those decisions;
  • Unless otherwise specified in the work you would like to reproduce, written permission is not required if the reproduction will be used for personal or public non-commercial purposes or for cost-recovery purposes only. However, you are required to comply with the conditions 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.
Is permission required to reproduce federal laws, regulations or court decisions?

No. 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.

View the following link for additional information on Reproduction of Federal Law Order.

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.

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.
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
90 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5

Telephone: 613-957-2533
Fax: 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. All requests about the National flag of Canada for commercial use should be addressed to the Department of Canadian Heritage at the following address:

Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion
State Ceremonial and Protocol Directorate
Department of Canadian Heritage
Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0M5

Telephone: 819-994-1616
Fax: 819-997-8550

Page details

Date modified: