Registered survey plans — mapped designs filed with government that outline boundaries of property — are copyrighted by the Crown, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday. The government can hand out and charge for copies, and no money goes back to the surveyors who created the plans.
The questions in this case were about who owns copyright when the government publishes material created by an independent contractor. Land surveys are private creative works that are usually commissioned and paid for by members of the public, but must be filed with government in order to have any legal effect. The issue in court came down to what happens when someone wants a copy.