Friday, September 23, 2011


With permission,
Time for me to start posting again! I decided to make my summer blog-free as I was away for over a month in France and Vancouver Island on assignment. I had nine travel articles to research and write, along with taking all the images to go with them. Now I'm back.

Last night I went to hear an intellectual property lawyer, Ann Carlsen, present "Copyright for Photographers," a subject of concern for me. The hour and a half (too short) was intense and full of content that was also applicable to me as a writer. (Note that the Canadian Tory government is planning to bring in a new copyright act this session and this presentation referred to the act about to be superseded.)

Here are the highlights I heard as a non-lawyer:
  • US and Canadian copyright law is very different.
  • Copyright is governed only by statute - there is no body of common law.
  • Writing falls into the "Literary" class of protected works; Photography, the "Artistic" class.
  • Copyright is automatically yours when you "fix" your work on your hard drive, your memory card, or by handwriting/typing on paper, and must be the "result of skill, labour, and judgement" of the creator. (If a friend takes a photo with your camera and it's on your card, a court will probably decide s/he owns the copyright to it because of their work involved to create the image. The new act will state that whoever takes the photo, holds copyright to it.)
  • Creators do not need to register copyright to own it. (Mailing yourself copies of your work is NOT considered as evidence of copyright ownership in court.)
  • Titles of books cannot be copyrighted; series titles can.
  • Duration: Literary = life of author + 50 years; Artistic = 50 years from time of creation but will change with new act.
  • Your will should specifically address your creative works and what you want done with them.
And, here's the bottom line:
  • Everything ONLINE is copyrighted (unless otherwise stated) and writers cannot download anything except for private use offline. E.g: You can't copy  someone else's article/photo and post it to your blog, but you can post a link.
  • Everything you create and post online is considered PUBLISHED, and so if you use others' creations, you are infringing their copyright unless you have written permission and say so, along with the attribution.
There's so much more to this subject that the best advice I can provide is to be aware of copyright law, learn more about it in your own country, and set an example to other creators, especially online.

  • Are you careful of using others' work online?
  • Do you ask permission to use others' work?
  • Do you always attribute others' work?
  • Do you check that your copyright has not been infringed? How do you do it?
Please comment if you have more pertinent info on copyright issues ...
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