Like most other common law countries there are no inherent rights to works, performances, or sound recording at the common law. Copyright exists solely in statute. According to section 91(23) of the Constitution Act, 1867 the federal government is granted exclusive power to enact laws related to copyright. The evolution of copyright in Canada has been guided by international treaties signed by Canada that try to unify copyright laws across the globe.
The Copyright Act was first enacted in 1921 and was based almost entirely on the British Copyright Act of 1911. But since ratifying the Berne Convention the Act has been amended to accommodate many of the requirements of a modern copyright regime.
Section 91 of the Copyright Act states that Canada adheres to the following treaties:
- (a) the Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works concluded at Berne on September 9, 1886, as revised by the Paris Act of 1971; and
- (b) the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, done at Rome on October 26, 1961.