Canadian Copyright Law for Bloggers
I recently spoke in Montreal at a food bloggers conference. My presentation was about legally using content as well as protecting content in your own blog. Because it was a food bloggers conference, the number one question I was asked throughout the conference was reproducing recipes and are recipes protected by copyright. Bottom line: a list of ingredients are not protected by copyright however the prose used to describe how to make the recipe is protected by copyright. Of course you can’t really protect phrases like, Add half a cup of sugar. So many food bloggers and recipe book authors try to create a style with specific phrases and wording so it’s obvious when someone is copying their style. Is a style protected by copyright? No, but the exact words used to describe how to make a recipe are protected by copyright.
Another big issue for food bloggers is attribution. Even if you use a list of ingredients without permission and you explain how to make the recipe in your own words, ethically you should attribute the original recipe author and also link to the author’s website or the recipe itself if it’s available online.
See my list of copyright tips for staying legal and protecting your content from the Food Bloggers Conference.
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 smart phone 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 smart phone 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.