Public domain works are those on which copyright has expired or which the creator or copyright owner has chosen to release as public domain.
According to the Copyright Act C-42:
Term of Copyright
6. The term for which copyright shall subsist shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, be the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.
For example, Robert Service died September 11, 1958, so copyright on his works expired in Canada on December 31, 2008. There are a number of exceptions, however.
Note that materials in the public domain may still contain copyright material, e.g., if an editor has added an introduction, notes, or commentary. In such cases, the material in the public domain may be copied freely, but the editorial material may not be copied beyond what is permitted by fair dealing.
Note also that every edition, translation, or adaptation of a work has its own copyright. For example, a translation of a work by Balzac would enter the public domain in Canada 50 years after the death of the translator.
Note: On December 30, 2022 the term of copyright will change from 50 years to 70 years:
Term of copyright
6 Except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, the term for which copyright subsists is the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of 70 years following the end of that calendar year.
Copyright will not be revived from any works that are currently in the public domain:
Section 6, subsections 6.2(2) and 7(1) and (3) and section 9 of the Copyright Act, as enacted by sections 276 to 279, do not have the effect of reviving the copyright in any work in which the copyright had expired before the day on which sections 276 to 279 come into force.
Trinity Western University's Langley campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Stó:lō people. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work, and learn on this land.