- Have I created an ‘original’ work?
- Do I know what constitutes an ‘original’ work?
- Have I given credit where credit is due?
Consider these questions as you review the examples below. Try the quiz from the left menu: What Have You Learned? after you’ve spent some time with this section.
In Canada, copyright is inherent with the producer of the original work. This means that you do not have to go to an official copyright certifier to say “I own this.” That being said, in the event of disputed origins, you might find yourself in a position to have to prove that it was you who created the work. Think of these infamous cases:
- Bestselling authors Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code, and J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter, have been on opposite sides of the judges bench, one accused of copyright infringement, the other alleging they were the victim of excessive and illegal borrowing. Brown was vindicated in 2006, even though there were many similarities between his book and an earlier work by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. In his case, the following principle applied. “…it [copyright] protects the expression of ideas and not the ideas themselves.” (WIPO)
- Meanwhile, J.K. Rowling successfully prevented a publication that she claimed borrowed too excessively from her own work. In 2008 an author attempted to publish The Harry Potter Lexicon. The work was a glossary of terms and explanations taken directly from Rowling’s work. She was able to successfully claim the the expression of the idea was not significantly different enough from her work, and therefore not an original work.
With these cases in mind, it is important in the creation of a work to keep records of the entire process. In the case of on-line material, adding metadata to photos and video to prove that you are the original creator even if the material gets distributed without your consent. You have a right to be credited and/or paid for your work.