US vs. Canada – Differences in Copyright Law

The United States and Canada – neighbours but with different copyright rules for photos, books, paintings, music and all sorts of creative content. Get into the swing of the regulations in these parts of the world!  

us canada copyright law

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THE BERNE CONVENTION FOR EVERYONE

Let’s start with something that both countries have in common. They are both parties to the Berne Convention which is an international document governing the copyright law (read more here). According to this convention, the copyright for photos shall be respected equally by all of the member countries. Every photo copyright infringement shall be treated as the convention’s violation.

There might be different terminology used, depending on the Copyright Act, but still, both countries grant protection on original works in comparable categories.

TO REGISTER OR NOT TO REGISTER?

Neither in the United States nor Canada is the registration of copyrights obligatory, although it has certain benefits in case of image theft. And here the first important difference between the US and Canadian copyright law pops up. If you want to chase those who stole your pictures, in the States you need to register your pictures while in Canada it is not required.

YEARS & YEARS

For how long would the work be protected? In the United States, the basic copyright term is the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, unless the work was labelled as work for hire. In such case, the copyright remains for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication. In Canada, the rules are much simpler. Count the author’s life plus 50 years. Always works.

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WHAT ABOUT MORAL RIGHTS?

All creators have the right to be associated with their work. In the United States, moral rights are respected only for visual artists (photographers got lucky this time!). In Canada, moral rights are respected for all types of works.

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FAIR USE

Fair use is a U.S. law doctrine which permits using copyrighted materials without the consent of their authors. You will find a broader explanation and much more information concerning fair use here. The concept of fair use is rather complex, although it is surely not as broad as many photo copyright infringers tend to think. Image theft is also growing because of the abuses of fair use. The Canadian equivalent is called fair dealing. The use of copyright material is more limited than in the US. Fair dealing applies only for certain, specific categories, such as education, research, news reporting, private study, parody and satire.

In times of growing photo copyright infringement, it is crucial to know the rules and stay updated with the changes. Since, as a photographer, your focus is surely set on taking pictures, let us take care of the copyright news and your stolen photos online. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram – and be sure not to miss what’s important!

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About the Author:

Content Creator, Marketing & PR Specialist. Business and Journalism & Social Communication graduate. Experienced in working freelance and in a multi-cultural environment. Want to spread a word about PhotoClaim? Get in touch with Ania, she makes sure PhotoClaim reaches photographers and photography enthusiasts who want to protect their copyrights.

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