The general term* of copyright protection in Canada is changing from the life of the creator plus 50 years to the life of the creator plus 70 years, effective December 30, 2022. This term extension was agreed to in the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement trade treaty. The new term matches the general copyright term in the United States and a number of other countries around the world. When copyright in a work expires, that work enters the public domain, meaning it is no longer protected and there are no longer any restrictions on its use. (For more information about the types of works that are protected by copyright, see this FAQ.)
This change will create two rules for determining whether most works are protected by copyright or are in the public domain in Canada:
- If the creator died in 1971 or earlier, copyright has expired and their works are now in the public domain.
- If the creator died in 1972 or later, their works are protected for their life plus 70 years.
This change means that very few works will enter the public domain in Canada in the next twenty years (2023-2042). Read this blog post for a deeper dive on the consequences of this change.
*Note: some specific types of works have different terms of copyright protection, such as anonymous/pseudonymous works and government works protected by Crown copyright. See sections 6 through 12 in the Copyright Act for details.