Canadian Photogs Now Officially Own the Copyright to All of Their Photos

A big win for photographers in Canada: as of today, you now officially own the copyright to all your photographs regardless of whether they were commissioned. The development comes as a result of Canada major copyright reform bill (Bill C-11) taking effect this morning. One of the stated goals of the new copyright law is to, “give photographers the same rights as other creators.”

In an email just sent out to member photographers, Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC) copyright head André Cornellier writes,

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.

Previously, photographers were not automatically the first owners of their photographs when shooting commissioned work, but instead it was the individuals or businesses that commissioned the images who owned the copyrights. Section 13(2) of the Canadian Copyright Act specifically singled out photography as being different than other creative works.

Photographers who wanted to own the full copyrights of their work were required to have the transfer explicitly agreed upon in a written and signed contract.

That once-murky environment is no more. Starting today, photographers will automatically become the first owners of photos created for someone else.

Cornellier notes that his organization and a number of others have been working to see this law passed for more than 20 years, and that many photographers have contributed countless donations and volunteer hours toward the lobbying process.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Ben!

Image credits: Canada wins Hockey Gold by Chris Bizzy, Canada 125 (Ottawa) 06 by zemistor

  • ofCanada

    That’s rather good news. As it should be, the work of an artist belongs to them regardless of the cash of others.

  • ofCanada

    So, nobody should associate the Sistine Chapel ceiling with Michelangelo. He was just an employee, after all.

  • camille_h

    I would never hire a photographer for product photography work or for an event, such as a wedding without insisting on a transfer of the rights for ALL images captured in the paid session(s). Look at the terms & conditions very carefully.

  • MarkKalan

    Perhaps you need to learn to use the html sarcasm code: and

  • MarkKalan

    Irony and sarcasm are in the tone of voice…lost on the internet….and its probably all your fault! ;-)

  • Ian Payton

    while it sounds great from an ownership view, but it could be creating work for a photographer that they may do not want. Under the old law, if i was commissioned by ABCD Corporation to take some photos and those photos were infringed on, it was the job of ABCD Corporation to protect their copyright. So under this law ABCD Corp could not go after someone for infringement, they would have to get the photographer who owns the copyright to do so? Personally with some commissioned product photography work I have done, once I give them what want, I want to be done with the the images. I do not want a call or an email telling me that I have to protect my copyright on their behalf for something I did a few years ago.