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SODRAC is not responsible for protecting your works. However, for information purposes, we have listed four ways to protect your works against plagiarism. For more detailed information on this topic or in the event of a legal dispute, you are advised to consult a lawyer.

Registered mailing
SARTEC filing certificate
SPACQ filing certificate
Copyright Office
Additional effective prevention methods

Registered mailing

This method is simple, inexpensive and acknowledged. As soon as you have completed your work, before sending it to anyone or having anyone listen to it, mail yourself a copy by registered mail. Never open the envelope and keep it in a secure place (a safety deposit box, for example). This envelope (and its contents) may be used as proof in any court action for plagiarism. Thus the judge would be able to open the sealed envelope and witness the nature of its contents. The date of the Canada Post seal will constitute a presumption of proof for the creation date.

At the bottom of your text or music score, indicate the sign © (the international copyright sign) followed by your name, your address and the year. For example:

© John Doe 2000, 1200 St. John Road, Montreal, QC H2L 2P2

Ideally it is recommended to put one single piece of work (text/music score or cassette/CD) per envelope because you risk losing your anteriority date if you should need to have the envelope opened for some work. The envelope opening would mean that the remaining works would have to be sent once again by registered mail, the previous shipping date thus being lost.

It is not necessary to have the music in the form of a music score (i.e. graphically reproduced). However you should know that if you send yourself a cassette instead of the musical score, it may become demagnetized over the years.

You may also have a witness sign on the bottom of your text or your music score. However the proof of creation date through witnesses may be difficult to establish as it is one person’s word against another’s.

Write the title of the work on the reverse side of the envelope for identification purposes.

Don’t forget the utmost importance of mailing this envelope as soon as possible because it would be difficult to prove you had written or composed a work in 1997 if you mailed it only in 2008 for example!

SARTEC filing certificate

For those who prefer a more formal method than registered mail, you may file a copy of your work with the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (SARTEC). For a few dollars, this society will issue a filing certificate with its date. This certificate may be used as proof in case of a dispute. The lawyer will have to request that the Society supply the judge with the work in order that he may become aware of its content. Be advised that the filing of a work with SARTEC is only valid for a five-year period after which it is renewable upon request.

Please visit SARTEC website (in French only) to file a copy of your work.

SPACQ filing certificate

The Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ) also provides deposit services for authors and composers of musical works/songs. For a minimal fee, SPACQ issues a certificate of deposit that is valid for three years and can be renewed. In the event of counterfeiting, the certificate can be used to prove the content of your work(s) as well as your status as author/composer. An unlimited number of original musical works can be deposited with SPACQ.

For further information on the deposit services, please visit SPACQ’s website (in French only).

Copyright Office

You may also register your work (or your collection of works) with the Canadian Copyright Office. However we must advise you that the Copyright Office only registers the title of the work and the names of the copyright owners.

The benefits are unmistakable. There are legal presumption provisions if your work is registered, including the following:

  • the person who registers his work is presumed to be the holder of the rights and it is up to the defendant to prove that he was not aware of the existence of a copyright. This presumption facilitates the proceeding in favour of the plaintiff;
  • in the case of a registered work, the person committing plagiarism is presumed to be of bad faith and could be subject to paying you damages.

To sum it all up, registration is useful in the event of lawsuits.

Additional effective prevention methods

In addition to these tried-and-true methods, here are some other useful ways to protect your works:

  • Hold onto the source or underlying material for your works. It will then be easier for you to prove that you created them.
  • Send out a targeted mailing and keep a list of any people you send your works to. That way, you control the initial distribution process by being able to identify all of the recipients.
  • Be careful when making materials available on-line: despite copyright warnings, most copyright pirates rely on Internet distribution.
  
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