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WGC re: the Copyright Act

July 20, 2018

The WGC both appeared in person and submitted written comments to the recent Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology as part of its Statutory Review of the Copyright Act.

The WGC asked that the Act be clarified to reflect that the screenwriter and the director of a “cinematographic work” with an original dramatic character — the Act’s parlance for a film or television show —should be considered its “co-authors.”

Screenwriters are already the authors and first owners of the copyright in their scripts and other written material. But there is a separate and distinct copyright in the resulting film or television production, which also has one or more “authors” under the Act. Canadian case law has already determined that screenwriters and directors are the authors of such a work, and not the producer. But the law would benefit from the clarity of this being stated explicitly in the Act.

The issue is important for several reasons. Under the Act the term of copyright protection for a film or TV show is directly tied to the life of its author. The author is also entitled to moral rights protection. The author of a work is the first owner of the copyright therein and that ownership must be bargained for. And clarifying their positions as authors offers the potential for further policy tools to support creators, such as equitable remuneration for authors as is available in other jurisdictions like Europe.

You can read the WGC’s complete written submission on the WGC website here.



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