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Canadian Copyright Laws

Copyright Laws for Photography


Planning your wedding and hiring a professional wedding photographer is the first time most couples come in contact with wedding photography copyright laws and contracts. I often get asked, by my couples, to explain the usage rights and copyright clause in the contract. Clients should make sure they can use their wedding photos as they want to without breaking any laws or offending their photographer.

You hired a great wedding photographer, got amazing wedding photos and can do anything you want with them, right? Well…not exactly.

There are many things attached to wedding photography copyright laws. Since a lot of my blog readers are engaged couples, other professional photographers, aspiring actors and lovers of photography as an art form then we should probably go over what you can do with your images.

Copyright is often misunderstood, and I hope that this blog post will help clear things up for those of us who create photography, and for those that use it for non-commercial purposes, personally and socially.

Here’s a brief photography copyright summary, so you can learn about your rights and obligations when it comes to copyright ownership of your wedding photos:

What is Copyright?

According to copyright protection laws, Canadian wedding photographers are the first owners of their work by default the moment photographs are taken. This applies to both photographs commissioned and paid for by a client, and to photographs taken for non-commercial purposes.Jul 11, 2015


One who creates or possesses the work can control how it is used.


According to copyright protection laws, Canadian wedding photographers are the first owners of their work by default the moment photographs are taken. This applies to both photographs commissioned and paid for by a client, and to photographs taken for non-commercial purposes. Therefore, wedding photographers do not have to sign an agreement with their client stating they are the first owners of the copyright. The law guarantees ownership by default.


The law is designed this way for several reasons. The photographer’s work is dependant on how their images are used and shared. For example, editing their work with that new, cool Instagram filter or not crediting a photographer when images are shared can negatively impact the photographer’s reputation. The law calls it “moral” rights.


It means that all creators hold moral rights with regards to their original work.

Moral rights include:

The right to associate his/her name with his/her work (aka being mentioned as a creator of the work);

The right to the integrity of one’s work – without the work being cropped, cut, excessively trimmed or altered.


So, as a client, can I control how my wedding photos are used and reproduced?

Yes, you can. When you’re hiring a professional wedding photographer to create photographs for your personal, or “private” use.

You can:

  • print your photos
  • create wedding albums
  • share to social media ( with credit & without altering the integrity of the image....no filters)
  • thank you cards
  • send to friends and family

You can't:

  • send, share or sell them to a wedding magazine
  • send photography to a stock company.
  • You also cannot use them as your own promotion for your own business and give it to others to display it as an advertisement online, in a magazine, etc.


At this point, it would be considered a commercial use license related to marketing and public relations and it can’t be done without the creator’s authorization.

A few years ago, wedding photographers did not have any rights to their own work. Luckily in 2012, the law changed and the original creators have a lot more freedom in terms of their ownership. New laws make it easy for wedding photographers to execute full rights to their own intellectual property, while keeping their clients and their family happy, allowing them to share and reproduce photos without limits as long as it’s not related to commercial use.

For more information regarding Canadian copyright laws, please visit here.

https://capic.org/copyright-laws/












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