GENERAL INFORMATION ON OBTAINING NORTH AMERICAN COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
It is often said that we are living in an "information age". In fact, we are. However, it is not the nature of the information to which we are currently exposed, per se, that is of special significance to our age. Rather, it is the speed by which it may be readily disseminated. While the vitality of community and industry has always depended upon synergetic assemblies of people, information and capital, now, messages transmitted through copper, coaxial or glass fibre wires, or beamed through the sky, have replaced the bricks and mortar which have heretofore allowed for such assemblies. This has fundamentally altered the way we live our personal lives and conduct business, and shattered the established paradigms in all sectors of the economy. The Internet, in particular, has expanded the ability of entrepreneurs to market their goods, at relatively low cost, and in the process, turned thousands of hobbyists into viable industrialists.
Nowhere has this change been more evident than in those industries wherein the product is information itself. The vast expansion of markets available to potential entrepreneurs which has occurred is of particular value to purveyors of information. Even in the information age, vendors of capital goods face limitations on the speed in which they may expand their business, or alter same to counter changing economic climates; there are, inter alia, limits on the speed by which factories can be built, or re-tooled. In contrast, the technological advances of the information age mean that vendors of information have no such limits; their work-product, namely, information, may be replicated and transmitted, for all intents and purposes, as needed, to meet demand. The results are self-evident. In North America alone, revenues relating to the book publishing, motion picture, computer software and recorded music industries, which number among the most important of the "information industries", are estimated to exceed US$ 130 Billion, and have grown in recent years at a pace well in advance of the overall domestic growth rate.
However, this great advance comes with a corresponding downside. The ease by which information may be replicated and distributed results in the potential for widespread piracy. Books may be scanned and printed at blinding speed. Computer software, pre-recorded motion picture videotapes and music CDs may be easily duplicated and distributed. The control of these types of piratical activities is the purview of the law of copyright. As such, the importance of copyright law to modern commerce cannot be understated.
In light of the foregoing, the following treatment has been written, to assist the reader in ascertaining the benefits which can be obtained through the proper exercise of copyright law. However, it should be noted that the laws relating to copyright are very complex. The information provided in this treatment represents only an overview of certain selected elements of copyright law of general interest. The information contained herein pertains to works created in Canada, by Canadian residents, only. In no circumstances should the information enclosed in this treatment be considered an adequate substitute for considered legal advice, and the authors hereby expressly disclaim any and all liability relating to the provision of this information.