Abolishing Canadian Crown Copyright: Why Government Documents Should Not be Subject to Copyright
Master of Studies in Law
Studies in Law
Section 12 of the Canadian Copyright Act, which assigns the government copyright ownership over all documents produced by the federal government for a period of fifty years, has remained virtually unchanged since being introduced into Canada’s copyright legislation in 1921. This provision is known as Crown copyright, and its continued existence serves as a barrier to the reuse of public sector information by the public, despite the fact that said documents were produced by government employees whose salaries are paid for by the taxpayers. This paper looks at Crown copyright through a global and Charter lens, evaluating how s.12 fits in with the way in which other countries treat copyright over government documents, but also how s.12 might stand up to a Charter challenge. Given the current environment of balance within Canada’s copyright philosophy, the influence of the Open Government trend throughout the world, and the complicated situation the government would be placed in were they actually required to argue the constitutionality of s.12, it is clear that Crown copyright should be abolished from Canada’s copyright legislation.
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Benton, Emily, "Abolishing Canadian Crown Copyright: Why Government Documents Should Not be Subject to Copyright" (2019). Master of Studies in Law Research Papers Repository. 7.