New Bill C-11 modernizes Canadian Copyright Laws
Bill C-11 came into force on november 7th 2012 to modernize Canada's copyright laws.
In summary the new law grants equitable rights to Canadian professional photographers, allows greater reproduction rights to non-commercial customers, provides broader exceptions to copyright laws for educational purposes, allows more rights to use copyright protected material in creation of non-commercial content and finally prohibits the circumvention of copy protection digital mechanisms.
- Before this new law, photographers and other artists had different rights over their own creations. For example if you hired a musician for your wedding, his songs did not become your intellectual property, but if you hired a photographer yes. Bill C-11 comes in to modernize this aberration by specifying that the photographer is the first owner of copyright in the photographs no matter if he is commissioned to take pictures or not. Most professional photographers (including myself) included a clause in their contracts where the client ceded these rights to the photographer, this is no longer necessary.
- Customers who order non-commercial photography work (private portrait, family, wedding photography, etc..), now have default rights to reproduce and share all the photographs obtained without permission of the creator if they are not used in commercial purposes, if they are not protected by a digital lock and finally if no contractual clause signed between the two parties specifically prohibits it. In my case, I already allowed all non-commercial use before the existence of this law, but this was not the case for several professional photographers who based their income on exclusive reproduction rights. You are therefore advised in the future to properly compare your rights before signing a contract for non-commercial photography.
- Uses for educational purposes only are now permitted even for works protected by copyright if they are available digitally and they are not protected by a digital lock.
- It is now possible to copy a work protected by copyright in a strictly non-commercial context if the work is available online without protection against digital copying for example the creation of a new work, a parody, a "mashup", etc.. In principle, the person making such use must publish the source.
- It is now illegal to circumvent any digital protection against copying. This is called a digital lock and can be implemented in various ways: the acceptance of terms before seeing the work, a password to access the work or various types of DRM (Digital Rights Management).
This new law was written in order to modernize the laws on copyright while avoiding the use of terms that are too specific technologically to enable it to remain in force and valid for a few years despite technological innovations. In principle, the idea is good, but in practice this law leaves much room for interpretation, and exceptions are very broad.
* Please note that this website and its author are not intended to be legal advisors, this text is an opinion and interpretation and should not be considered legal recommendations. Always consult a legal professional for specific advice.