Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Crown copyright is a form of copyright claim used by the governments of the United Kingdom and some of its former colonies. It covers creations of the government and generally continues for 50 years from publication.
Prior to the 17th century the executive, acting on behalf of the monarch, controlled all printing and the granting licences to printers. During the 17th century the Crown lost most of its rights, except with regard to the King James Bible and Acts of Parliament. Until 1911 there was no special status for the Crown, excepting these texts.
The 1911 Copyright Act , which came into force in July 1912 established Crown copyright. Any work created by, or under the direction or control of His Majesty or any Government department "shall, subject to any agreement with the author, belong to His Majesty". This principle is the basis of the later 1956 and 1988 acts of parliament.
Crown copyright in Canada covers all documents created by the Government of Canada or the government of provinces ("the Crown in right of Canada" or "the Crown in right of Ontario", Quebec, Nunavut, etc.). While the governments of Canada claim copyright on all its documents, it is doubtful whether all of these claims are realistically enforceable. Exceptions such as the text of laws, orders-in-council, or the text of judicial decrees and opinions are sometimes considered in the public domain. There is judicial authority in Canada that a judge's decisions cannot be copyrighted: see Jockey Club v. Standen (1985) 8 C.P.R.(3d) 283, 288 (B.C.C.A.).
As an example, the Queen's Printer for Ontario claims copyright in Ontario statutes, regulations and judicial decisions. However, the Queen's Printer permits any person to reproduce the text and images in the statutes, regulations and judicial decisions without seeking permission and without charge, essentially putting the material in the public domain; however it is not identical with it being in the public domain as the Crown is reserving its moral rights. This may not be applicable in other countries, such as United States, that do not recognize moral rights in their copyright laws. The only caveat is that the materials must be reproduced accurately and the reproduction must not be represented as an official version and should be acknowledged in the following form (with the appropriate year of first publication):
- © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 20—. This is an unofficial version of Government of Ontario legal materials.
Section 12 of the Canadian Copyright Act states that the Canadian government owns the copyright of any work that has been prepared or published by or under the direction or control of any government department subject to any agreement. Crown copyright exists for fifty years from the date of publication.
- Application to obtain copyright licence from Canadian government (PDF file)
- Sterling, J.A.L. "Crown Copyright in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth Countries".
- Vaver, David. "Copyright and the state in Canada and the United States".
- HMSO, UK on Crown Copyright
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