CIPR Database

The Term of Copyright Protection in Photographs

Margaret Ann Wilkinson and Tierney G.B. Deluzio

Volume 31



Among the many changes made by the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012 were a number that affected copyright in photographs. The removal in 2012 of section 10 of the Copyright Act, which had previously made special provisions for the length of copyright in photographs, leaves section 6 of the Copyright Act, the general term provision, as the one governing photographs, because there is no other section in the current Copyright Act applicable to photographs. The life of the author of a work plus 50 years after the end of the calendar year of the author’s death will clearly be the period of copyright for photographs going forward. This article examines whether, because of this change, copyright subsists in all photographs in Canada whose authors have died within the past 50 years or whether, as some have suggested, a group of such photographs exists in which copyright has expired. We conclude that all such photographs are in copyright.