FAQ - Copyright

Can I just send my musical work to myself and keep it in a sealed envelope?
Sending a copy of your song to yourself and keeping the envelope sealed until it is needed (e.g. for a legal proceeding) can be a fact that will help establish the date you claimed authorship/ownership. It does not prove that you created the song; rather, it only helps establish the date you claim the song came into existence.

How long does a copyright last?
Copyright generally lasts for 50 years after the author (or the last surviving author) dies. However, there are exceptions.

Are there limitations or exceptions to copyright?
Yes. Copyright can expire, as just discussed. Copyright is also subject to specific statutory exceptions.

How do I obtain permission to record a song?
Anyone wishing to copy a song must first seek the permission of the copyright owner by obtaining a mechanical rights licence. In Canada, many copyright owners are represented by mechanical rights organizations such as the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) or the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composer and Publishers in Canada Inc. (SODRAC).

How do I obtain permission to arrange or adapt a song?
If you wish to arrange or adapt an original copyright-protected musical work you must obtain permission from the copyright holder of that work.

How do I obtain permission to sample a song?
Using any samples without permission of the original copyright owner may constitute copyright infringement. In that case, both the copyright owner of the recording and the copyright owner of the musical work must grant permission.

How do I register a band name?
You cannot "copyright" your band’s name, but you can register the name as a trademark with the Trademarks Branch of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Ask an intellectual property lawyer for more information.

Can you give me advice about how much a publisher should pay to use a song?
Unfortunately, SOCAN is unable to provide any business or legal advice. It is not the organization's role, and you would best be served by a lawyer, business consultant, manager or agent acting on your behalf.

If I have licensed my work, can I still stop the licensee from making changes to it?
It depends on the terms of your licence. If you have not granted the licensee the right to make changes or modifications to the work, they may not have the right to do so. However, many licences do grant that right.

What is "fair dealing" or "fair use"?
The Canadian term "fair dealing" is similar but not the same as the American term "fair use." In Canada, it means that copyright is not infringed when a small part of a work is used for private study, research, criticism, review or newspaper summary. The exact amount of any particular work that can be used and still be considered fair dealing is an issue dealt with by a judge.

What is "public domain"?
A work (including a song) falls into the public domain when the copyright has expired. After that time, anyone has the right to record it, copy it, modify it, adapt it and generally use it without obtaining permission. Of course, any new arrangement or adaptation of the work may give rise to a copyright claim.