Once more into photography…

One of the consequences of my move to Stratford is rediscovering how much I have enjoyed photography in the past, and what kind of equipment I still have. The following is available to work with:

I had forgotten about the Espio camera, and there was a roll inside that had 9 exposures taken out of a 24-exposure roll. Let’s see later what those were, once I take some more to finish it off prior to getting it processed.

I have checked out the Stratford Camera Club, which appears to have a good schedule for the fall and winter, with lots of competitions and workshops on the go. There was also a vintage camera show going on in London a few weeks back that was also worth attending, and various ideas are beginning to stew.

I have to admit that photography is not as free and easy as it was when I first started playing with it in public school and high school. You could take lots of pictures, but sometimes the processor would not print some off due to “technical reasons” (but in high school we figured out quickly what that really meant). Going digital has caused an awful lot of changes in how we go about this.

Nevertheless, there are certain considerations we need to keep in mind in how we pursue photography, whether as a hobby or otherwise. I’ll concentrate on the hobby aspects here, where they affect:

  • the taking of photographs;
  • their publication; and
  • your intellectual property rights.

It goes without saying that I’m not providing legal advice of any kind. I’m just passing on what I have been able to read in perusing the Web.

Taking photographs

There are relatively few restrictions, but they are important:

  • If you are on private property, and the owner has posted notices stating that photography is not allowed, you commit a trespass if you take pictures nevertheless. In Ontario, this is governed by the Trespass to Property Act, under which you can be convicted and be subject to a fine of up to $2000 and paying damages of up to $1000 more.
  • If you loiter or prowl near a dwelling house on someone else’s property at night, s. 117 of the Criminal Code makes that a summary offence.
  • If you surreptitiously take pictures of someone in the nude, indulging in sexual activity, or otherwise showing off their “private parts”, where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy, that is voyeurism under s. 162, which is an indictable offence.
  • Taking pictures of a similar nature of anyone under the age of 18 constitutes child pornography under s. 163.1. This also covers possession and distribution of such images.
  • Avoid doing anything that might constitute paparazzi behaviour, as that could be construed as harassment under s. 264.
  • Under the various laws governing federal, provincial and municipal elections, it is an offence to take a picture of a ballot you have filled in.
  • Similarly, you are not allowed to take pictures inside polling places. Even if you are just at the entrance to one, you still need to obtain permission from the deputy returning officer in charge.
  • Photography is prohibited in areas designated for national security reasons under the Security of Information Act.
  • Court proceedings can be photographed, but only when the presiding judge has authorized it to occur.


  • Even if you take pictures of “intimate images” with someone’s knowledge, publication or other distribution of them without consent is an indictable offence under s. 162.1 of the Criminal Code.
  • It’s OK to publish pictures of sculptures or architectural works without violating the sculptor’s or architect’s copyright. This does not extend to two-dimensional objects such as paintings or other photographs.
  • If you take a photograph in circumstances that would mean that publication would constitute a breach of confidence, you can be barred from doing so. This arises from a notorious divorce case in the 1960s. This has been placed on a firmer statutory footing in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • In the common law provinces, you are generally allowed to publish pictures that were taken in a public place. That is not the case in Quebec, where it has been held that pictures focused on identifiable persons, other than those incidental to an image or those “whose professional success depends on public opinion” (eg, artists and politicians), can be barred from publication. It does not matter whether they were taken for commercial purposes or not.
  • Any pictures you may distribute for news or research purposes may be subject to verification for purposes of image integrity. Discussion of this can be found here and here. At the very least, you should disclose the details of what processing you may have done in Photoshop or GIMP.

Intellectual property issues

Here are the basic copyright protections to keep in mind:

In Canada, there is no copyright in any photographs taken before 1949. Otherwise, the general rule is that it lasts for the creator’s life and for 50 calendar years thereafter. However, unpublished images by photographers who died after 1948 but before 1999 will not enter the public domain until 2049.

In the United States, there is no copyright in your photographs if they entered the public domain prior to 1996 under Canadian law. But the situation is not really that simple. The current rule is that images are protected for the life of the photographer and for 70 calendar years thereafter. However, under previous legislation the following have fallen into the public domain:

  1. Works published in the U.S. before 1923.
  2. Works first published in 2003 or later by authors who have been deceased for 70 years.
  3. Works published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1977 without a copyright notice.
  4. Works published in the U.S. between 1978 and March 1, 1989, without a copyright notice, and where the copyright was not later registered.
  5. Works published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963 with a copyright notice but without later copyright renewal.
  6. Works published outside the U.S. before 1923, except possibly in the 9th Circuit, then before July 1, 1909.
  7. Works published outside the U.S. between 1923 and 1977 which were in the public domain in their home countries on January 1, 1996.

If you have contributed any images you have personally taken to another work, such as a yearbook or a corporate slide show, make sure that you have signed off a licence to that effect. You also have moral rights that would continue in those images, unless you have waived them in writing.


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