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ADMIN: Canadian Copyright(s)

  • Subject: ADMIN: Canadian Copyright(s)
  • From: John I Jones <jijones@usjoneses.com>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 11:20:23 -0800

It seems an issue has come up on this list regarding photographs, taken by others, used by R. Millet in Quebeck Canada

First and most importantly, a caveat:  I am not a lawyer in either Canada or the US and nothing I say below should be construed as reliable nor used by anyone to take any legal or other action.

I will attempt to address the general situation.

First of all, if you send a photograph to someone without knowing how they intend to use it, you should take more care of your property. The burden is on you.

Secondly, it appears that Canada, like the US, generally inures copyright of a photograph to the photographer. Exceptions appear to be made when the photograph is taken under contract. I have no idea whether a photograph taken in the US by a US citizen is covered by Canadian law.

Thirdly, the Canadian "Fair Dealing" provisions of their Trademark and Copyright law seem to be more restrictive that the US "Fair Use" provisions. Specifically in the area of making multiple copies (even for educational use)

Were I the owner of a photograph that I believed was being misused by someone, I would write them and request that they cease and desist and purge any copies of my photograph(s) from their library(ies). Beyond that, there is legal action if you have the time and money, and obviously stop sending them photographs.


If it comes to my atttention that someone repeatedly misuses the photos in the archives, they will be removed as subscribers from the iris-photos list. Granted the archives are public, but I could probably do something about that if I had to.

That being said the internet provides some information on Canadian copyright of photographs.

To what does copyright apply?

Copyright applies to all original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. These include books, otherwritings, music, sculptures, paintings, photographs, films, plays, television and radio programs, and computer programs. Copyright also applies to other subject matter including sound recordings (such as records, cassettes, and tapes), performer's performances, and communication signals.

Who owns the copyright?

Generally, the owner of the copyright is:

The creator of the work;
The employer, if the work was created in the course of employment unless there is an agreement to the contrary;
The person who commissions a photograph, portrait, engraving, or print for valuable consideration (which has been paid) unless there is an agreement to the contrary; or
Some other party, if the original owner has transferred the rights.

How do I obtain copyright?

You acquire copyright automatically when you create an original work or other subject matter.

Copyright Act 

The photographer is the owner of every photo that they have taken. Even if 2 people take an identical photograph, each photographer will own their own photograph. This includes popular tourist attractions which have their pictures taken several thousand times per day, the photographs may not be terribly unique, but each photo taken is still the property of it's photographer. The term of the copyright is from the time the photo was taken until the remainder of the year you die, plus 50 years.

Can libraries or educational institutions make multiple copies of parts of books or articles for student use?

No. The making of multiple copies requires the consent of the copyright owner. This consent may be obtained through a licensing agreement with a photocopying collective. However, the Copyright Act does allow the copying by individuals of parts of works for private study or research. Such copying should be minimal. This exception falls within the "fair dealing" section of the Act.

John                | "There be dragons here"

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