Photographs and Canadian Copyright Law
Under the Canadian Copyright Act, photographs are protected in the same manner as other artistic works (such as sculptures, paintings, sketches.) The Canadian Copyright Act defines a copyright-protected photograph to include “photo-lithograph and any work expressed by any process analogous to photography.” This means that photographs made with a negative or without a negative (e.g., Polaroid photographs) are protected by copyright in Canada. And so are photographs you take with your smartphone or with your digital camera. Prior to 1 January 1994 only photographs with a negative were protected under Canadian copyright law.
Like all copyright-protected works in Canada, photographs are protected automatically once they are in a fixed form. A fixed form would be saved on your smartphone or on your camera’s memory card. Chapter 3 of Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition, discusses the notion of automatic copyright protection upon the creation of the work.
Digital photographs are protected under Canadian copyright law.
Registering Copyright in Photographs in Canada
Are you required to register your images with a government office in order to obtain copyright protection in Canada? No, since copyright protection is automatic in Canada in photographs and in all eligible works, there is no need to register your photographs. However, you can register the copyright with the Canadian Copyright Office. Registering your photographs in the Canadian Copyright Office can often make it easier for those who want to use your images to find you and obtain permission to use them.
Photographers who register their works often register several images in one registration application in order to save both administrative time and money. Registration will provide you with some proof that you created the images in question and are the first copyright owner in these photographs. You can register images at any time—but best to do so earlier rather than later as that can help you provide proof of ownership of copyright in the images at the earliest date possible. Detailed information on registering your copyrights with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office is on pages 44 to 48, Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition, in the section entitled: How to Register Copyright with the Canadian Government, Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).
Learn more about Canadian Copyright Law.
The Role of The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
The Canadian Copyright Office which is part of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is discussed in various parts of the book Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition (CCL). For example:
- page 20 of CCL discusses responsibility for copyright in Canada and the role of CIPO
- page 44 discusses how to register copyright with the Canadian Government through CIPO
- page 255 examines locating a copyright owner through online and in-person searches in the Canadian Copyrights Database and in-person at CIPO
The Copyright Section
The Canadian Intellectual Property (IP) Office has a comprehensive website for each area of IP in Canada. The site was recently updated and is more visually appealing and much easier to navigate than before.
When you enter the copyright section of the site, there is a slider which provides you with various choices: a guide to Canadian copyright law; a link to search copyright records; and an explanation of Canadian copyright law. You can also easily choose things such as register a copyright, view registration fees, order documents, and transfer copyright ownership. Even more information is set out by several icons: learn; apply; online services; and resources. Many of the links return you to the older website design though it’s possible that these older pages will soon be updated.
Have URL’s Within the CIPO Changed?
Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition, includes several URLs within the CIPO website. I asked @CIPO through Twitter whether the URLs in its new website had changed and the reply was: @copyrightlaws Most of our links haven’t changed. If you encounter issues, let us know here: http://ow.ly/B6aw3. And if you do encounter any changed URLs, please let me know too so I can post them here and share the updates with other readers of Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition. Email Lesley.
A Useful Site for Canadian Copyright Law
This website is very useful as a primary resource for researching Canadian copyright law issues. The Canadian Copyright Act and Copyright Regulations as well as additional copyright information is only a click away once you enter the site. There is also a “What’s new” section which at the time of writing this post says, “There is no recent news at this time.” Though in the same area as the what’s new section is a reminder that says E-filing: save time and money, Register in 5 days! Impressive turn around for copyright registration. View the new CIPO website.
Learn more about Canadian copyright law.
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