…not that he realizes it, but for the first time in my life a piece of Canadian legislation will have a positive, direct and substantive impact on mybusiness, family and that of my professional photography colleagues.
Bill C-61, the new copyright act that Michael Geist and his merry band of Internet pirates are getting people foaming at the mouth over, was tabled in the House of Commons today. Geist, who is actually a nice guy and very smart, along with the media, are focusing on the part of the new act that prevents people from stealing music and videos from artists and media companies on the Internet. What almost nobody knows is that a part of this bill will finally give Canadian photographers the same rights as other Canadian artists, writers and people who create original works. Professional photographers organizations have been fighting for years to get this law updated. They almost had it in the dying days of Paul Martin's Liberal government.
Until now, photographers fell under the same rules as engravers and lithographers from the ancient days of printing and that meant, without an agreement otherwise, the person or company commissioning the photograph, lithograph or engraving owned the copyright once the fee was paid. This is the opposite to the copyrights laws of the USA and Europe with regard to photography and who the onus falls.
The irony is that Canada is a signatory to the Berne Convention on copyright and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and protects the rights of foreign photographers in Canada under these treaties but not their own citizens.
When people hire a photographer many think they are “buying” the photographs produced. Established respected professional photographers work on a “professional services” business model whereby you are paying for the professionals time and the rights to USE the fruits of that work for the purpose you stated you wanted it for when you contracted the photographer. This in no way coveys copyright to the client. The new law repeals section 13.2 of the copyright act and would, like all other artists, give the copyright to the photographer by default without the need of a specific agreement or contract. From Industry Canada;
In contrast with the existing rules, photographers would always be considered the authors of, and the first owners of, copyright in photographs, including commissioned photographs (e.g., wedding photos).
The terms of protections for some actual rights would be extended to:
- fifty years after publication for sound-recording makers and performers
- life plus 50 years for photographers
So, when you hear people moaning about not being able to get free music or video off the Internet remember, there are more important issues at play. This new copyright act protects individual artists, not just corporations, by updating and reinforcing the copyright laws in the Digital Age to protect them from people and corporations who steal their music, art works, writing, videos, software …AND PHOTOGRAPHS, from the Internet. I'm sure we have all seen websites and blogs that are nothing more than cut and paste of other peoples work. “Fair use” not withstanding, it has always been illegal. The new copyright law reinforces that and provides for penalties thus giving strength to artists rights.
So, Stephen, if you're reading…Thanks!
…now with our luck, this is the bill Stephane Dion will decide to get brave on and bring down the government. It's happened to us before!