What Can and What Can’t Be Copyrighted

The copyright law in Canada is fairly simple. For those of you who are averse to the whole idea of going through the legal language of an Act, you can consider consulting a copyright lawyer in Edmonton. This will help you understand what the nitty-gritties of the law.The law clearly states the things that can be copyrighted. But it does not indicate the things that cannot be copyrighted in Canada. Here is a crisp delineation of what can and cannot be copyrighted in Canada.

Things that can be copyrighted

According to the Copyright law of Canada, copyright applies to all original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works provided the conditions set out in the Copyright Act have been met. Each of these general categories covers a wide range of creations, including:

  • literary works such as books, pamphlets, computer programs and other works consisting of text
  • dramatic works such as motion picture films, plays, screenplays and scripts
  • musical works such as compositions with or without words
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures and plans

Other things that can be copyrighted are:

  1. The performer’s performances that include a performance of an artist, dramatic or musical work. This is irrespective of whether the work was previously recorded and whether or not the work’s copyright protection has expired. It also includes a recitation or reading of a literary work, whether or not the work’s term of copyright protection has expired. Even an improvisation of a dramatic, musical or literary work, whether or not the improvised work is based on a pre-existing work
  2. You can also copyright sound recordings, meaning recordings consisting of sounds, whether or not a performance of a work, but excluding any soundtrack of a cinematographic work where it accompanies the cinematographic work.
  3. Lastly, communication signals, meaning radio waves transmitted through space without any artificial guide, for reception by the public

Things that can’t be copyrighted

Titles and names

While you can consider trademarking business names, you cannot really copyright one. This is applicable to slogans and trademarks. You can not copyright your name, the title of your post or any short phrase that you use to identify a work.


Ideas are intangible and hence cannot be copyrighted. For something to be copyrighted it needs to be written down or saved in a hard drive. Simply put, it needs a tangible source. Having said that, there can be gray areas in this regard. So, it is best to consult with a copyright lawyer to get a better understanding of what can and cannot be copyrighted.


Logos may be trademarked based on the eligibility criteria for registration. But they certainly cannot be copyrighted.


Although this might sound surprising fashion cannot really be copyrighted. So, a pattern on a shirt might be copyrighted but the shirt itself cannot be copyrighted. There are quite few nuances in this area and you should consult your copyright lawyer to get a better understanding of this.These were the things that can and cannot be copyrighted in Canada. Reach out to our legal experts to know more about copyrighting in Canada.