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Copyright Law For Images- Canadians Finally Win Battle

All working photographers in Canada that do any paid or commissioned jobs, have scored a big victory in the realm of copyright. The long awaited Copyright Act amendment was voted in yesterday and it finally gives photographers the rights they deserve. If you are Canadian, you need to be aware of this, and even if you live elsewhere it's in your best interest to know the copyright law for images in your country.

Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC) copyright head André Cornellier said in an email to members,

The principle of protecting photographers’ ownership rights started 65 years ago by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who founded Magnum with Robert Capa and David Seymour. Magnum assured that a photographer’s image belonged to the photographer and not to the commissioner of the work.

In Canada, all other artists have already owned the copyrights to their work and thanks to this new law, Canadian photographers, albeit the last in the industrialized world, now have all legal rights to their images.

The main issues of Canadian copyright laws for images

  • The existing copyright law was so old, dating back to the early 1900's with very few amendments, that it didn't recognize photography as an art form or any of the newer technologies created since that time. It was long overdue for an update and it's been a long and bumpy road to get here.
  • Many photographers in Canada aren't even aware that until today, they did NOT own the copyright on their own images done for a paying client. Up until now when a client hired a photographer, the client actually owned the rights to the images as stated in the Copyright Act. As I said above, when the law was created photography was not considered an art form it was a service and therefore the customer was given the rights to the images. So photography was different than all other art forms such as painting, music, and writing. Now we are finally included in that group and have the rights to our own images.
  • Even if you had a contract with the client they could dispute it in court and likely they'd win. I'm not sure if this new law is retroactive to include any past jobs or how that works. If you are a working photographer in Canada it might be in your best interest to find out. If you don't have a contract stating that you own the copyright for images you take, I highly suggest you get one.
  • This is a huge win and improvement for all photographers in Canada. Both the CAPIC and PPOC (The Professional Photographers of Canada) organizations have been working towards this goal for years, thanks to them for all their hard work on behalf of all photographers in Canada.

“Photographers will be the first owner of copyright in their photographs even in the case of commissioned photographs” – as quoted from the new Act.

Two Articles on the New Copyright Law For Images

CAPIC – new Canadian Copyright Laws for Images

Copyright modernization act

Further reading and references

An introduction to the Canadian Copyright Act

Copyright law of Canada

Copyright Board of Canada

About Copyright

Application for Copyright Registration

Action Steps

Step one: open bottle

Step two: pour a glass of wine

Step three: drink it and toast to success!

Step four: add your comments below please. Tell me your thoughts on this news.


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