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How do I know if something is protected by copyright?

Copyright protection arises automatically when a work is created and generally subsists for 50 years after the author’s death, though this can vary depending on the type of work and where you want to use it. Works protected by copyright include literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works; sound recordings; performances; and communication signals. After copyright expires, the work enters the public domain and can be used freely without the need for permission or payment.

In Canada, there is no requirement that the work be registered or that the word "copyright," or the symbol ©, appear on the work in order to be protected under the law.

When you want to use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright, unless there is a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50 years. 

For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada’s About Copyright publication and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart.