Do you play music or use other forms of copyrighted work without paying licensing fees? To legally use original works, it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary permits. For example, if you play recorded music in your store or use excerpts from a book or poem, you are required to get a licence from the copyright holder.

To comply with the law, you need a licence to use original musical, artistic, literary, and dramatic works, including:

  • Music and sound recordings
  • Books, poems, newspapers, and pamphlets
  • Paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, maps, and architectural works
  • Films, videos/DVDs, scripts, performances, and screenplays
  • Computer programs

Keep in mind that original works are automatically protected by copyright, even if they are not marked with the copyright symbol (©). In general, copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author, and for 50 years after their death.

The following organizations can help you obtain a licence for using copyrighted works:

To use live or recorded music in your business, you will need to get licences from Re:Sound and the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).

Access Copyright can give you permission to use and distribute print and digital works such as books, newspapers, magazines, and other publications. In Quebec, you will need to obtain a licence from Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction (COPIBEC).

The Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective can help you get licences for using artistic works such as paintings and photographs.

Copyright licensing can be a complicated subject, but the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's Copyrights page has clear information about your legal responsibilities as a business owner. You can also visit our page on Copyrights for links to other resources.