It was not long after Canada entered formally into international copyright relations in 1924 that a conference was called to revise the Berne Convention, and Canadian diplomats for the first time represented their country at the Berne Union directly. Throughout the proceedings, it became apparent that Canada held common interests with other countries like Australia and New Zealand on issues such as broadcasting and performance rights. However, Canadian delegates did not take a prominent position on these issues; their instructions held them to playing only a minor and uncontroversial role. Against the backdrop of Canada’s changing relationship with Britain and the United States in the 1920s and 30s, this chapter outlines the new role of Canada in international copyright relations in the 1920s.
It would not be long before Canada’s course in international copyright would once again change direction. Following World War I, perceptions of Canada and its place in the world shifted; Canada’s participation in the Great War meant that Canada now viewed itself as an independent participant in international affairs, and there were feelings that the rebellious copyright policies of the past might tend to make Canada an “outsider in the general community of nations.”
Britain began now to loosen its grip on the handlebars of Canadian copyright, training wheels securely in place. In 1910 an Imperial Copyright Conference put into place a new copyright arrangement amongst members of the British Empire. First, Britain agreed to rescind its Imperial control over the copyright legislation of the colonies. Second, Britain agreed to find a way around the aspects of the Berne Convention to which Canada objected the most and arranged, in 1914, for an additional protocol to the Berne Convention on behalf of Canada. The 1914 protocol paved the way for Canada, for the first time, to implement the Berne Convention. With the Canadian Copyright Act of 1924 Canada, under Britain, ratified the treaty.
This chapter introduces the concept and application of copyright from its inception. It then proceeds to situate Canada in the international copyright system that emerged.