Copyright law jurisdiction

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  • Hi guys,

    I have a question that nobody seems to be able ot answer around me. I've asked all my JD and LLB friends, but nothing as of yet.

    I am a Canadian with a .com forum. If I were to abide by copyright laws, would I be abiding by American laws, or Canadian laws? Is there even much of a difference?

    Thank you.
  • International agreements have done a lot to harmonize copyright laws around the world. Both the US and Canada are signers of the Berne Convention and members of the World Trade Organization, so they both participate in the major treaties. The result of those treaties is that copyright protection rules are pretty uniform, although the limitations and exceptions that each country provides vary a bit more. Canada, for example, has specific exceptions for "fair dealing" but does not have a US-style fair use provision. Also, Canada does not, as yet, have the strict "anti-circumvention" rules that protect DRM systems in the US. One additional difference, I believe, is that the term of protection in Canada is life of the author plus 50 years, which is the minimum specified by the treaties, whereas the US has extended this by 20 additional years.

    One of the basic principles of these treaties is "national treatment," which means that a copyright holder gets the same protection, in any signatory nation, as citizens of that nation. Thus I, as a US citizen, should get the same rules applied to my copyrights in Canada as a Canadian would get, and a Canadian in the US would get US-style protection.

    The upshot of this is that, assuming you are a Canadian citizen residing in Canada and working with a Canadian ISP, you should probably abide by Canadian law, although in terms of the protections you need to respect there is probably very little difference.

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