Consultation on Copyright Protection in Unpublished Works: Final Report by Wanda Noel (2002)

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On October 3, 2002, Supporting Culture and Innovation: Report on the Provisions and Operation of the Copyright Act (Section 92 report) was tabled in the House of Commons on behalf of the Minister of Industry. It proposes an agenda for copyright reform that sets out groupings of issues to be addressed in the short, medium and long terms. Among the short-term issues is whether section 7 of the Copyright Act should be amended to alter the provisions, which will result in certain old unpublished works falling into the public domain in 2004.

In this regard, prior to Bill C-32, unpublished works had perpetual protection. With the passing of Bill C-32 in 1997, section 7 of the Act was amended to provide that all works are protected for the standard term of life of the author plus 50 years following the year of the author's death, regardless of publication. The amendment was subject to certain transitional provisions relating to works not published by December 31, 1998 namely:

  1. The works of authors who died before December 31, 1948 will fall into the public domain on January 1, 2004, and
  2. The works of authors who died between December 31, 1948 and 1998 will be protected until January 1, 2049.

For those who died after 1998, the standard term of protection would apply.

Various individuals had expressed concern with respect to the transitional periods and have sought amendments to the transitional term of protection. The government undertook to consider the issue and hired an outside consultant, Wanda Noel, to consider possible changes to the transitional period. Two consultation meetings were held in January and February 2002 with representatives from the Canadian Historical Association, the Bureau of Canadian Archivists, the National Archives of Canada and The Writers' Union of Canada. The working group have developed a proposal described in Copyright Protection in Unpublished Works: Final Report.

To ensure that all interested parties are provided an opportunity to comment on the working group's proposal, the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada are posting the document and seeking views on it. These comments will be taken into account in determining the most appropriate course of action in respect of section 7 of the Copyright Act. We would ask that you provide a written response by March 7, 2003.

Written comments may be sent by e-mail (WordPerfect, Microsoft Word or HTML formats) to with the following reference: "Comments - Section 7 of the Copyright Act".

Comments may also be sent by mail or fax to either:

Comments - Section 7 of the Copyright Act

c/o Intellectual Property Policy Directorate
Industry Canada
235 Queen Street
5th Floor West
K1A 0H5
Fax: 613-941-8151

c/o Copyright Policy Branch
Department of Canadian Heritage
275 Slater Street
7th Floor
K1A 0M5
Fax: 613-990-6230