Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill that will, among other things, finally make Canadian photographers the first owner of copyright on their photographs, passed third reading at the Senate and received royal assent on Friday, June 29th. The bill is now S.C. 2012, c.20. The reforms do not take effect immediately, and the bill must go through an order-in-council process with a series of new regulations first. This will likely take several months.
The bill’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a step forward for Canadian photographers and will finally grant photographers the same rights as most other artists.
Clause 7 of the bill repeals subsection 13(2) of the Act (ownership of copyright for commissioned photographs). The bill seeks to make the photographer or painter the owner of copyright in photographs or portraits that have been commissioned, thereby bringing the ownership of copyright in photographs in line with other works. Presently, the person who commissions a photograph or portrait, rather than the photographer, is deemed to be the first owner of the copyright. Photographers, therefore, have had to rely on contractual arrangements to obtain rights to reproduce their photographs. The bill gives the person who commissioned the photograph or portrait limited rights to use it for personal or non-commercial use without the photographer or artist’s permission, subject to any contract that specifies otherwise.