Canada does not require formal copyright registration of your photo if you are a Canadian citizen or a citizen of a country that has agreed to certain international copyright treaties. Under Canadian law, you are entitled to automatic copyright protection of your photo if your citizenship qualifies you for it. Nevertheless, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office -- CIPO -- recommends that you obtain a Canadian certificate of registration for your photo as additional legal proof that you are its owner.
Read Canadian copyright law publications. CIPO has produced two publications, "A Guide to Copyrights" and "How Your Copyright Application Is Processed," which explain many Canadian copyright law concepts in lay terms.
Make sure that you own the copyright to your photo. Under Canadian law, the photographer is not always the owner of a photo's copyright. If you have signed a "work-for-hire" contract with a client for a photo, under which the client paid you for the photo and received all rights to it, your client now owns the copyright to the photo. An essay by The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators, "What You Sell," describes ways to determine if you still own the copyright on a photo.
Visit the websites of the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators and the Professional Photographers of Canada to see if there are any recent changes in Canadian copyright law that affect your photo.
Contact CIPO and get a copyright application form, titled, "Application for Registration of a Copyright in a Work." The CIPO website allows you to create a confidential account and fill out the application form online. You may also download the application form, print it and fill it out by hand.
Send the copyright form to CIPO with the required fee. As of 2011, the fee is C$50 if you submit your application online through the CIPO website and C$65 if you mail or fax your application. Do not send a copy of your photo with the application. CIPO is only interested in receiving the application and the fee. CIPO will review your application and if it is approved, your photo will be entered into the Copyright Register and you will be sent an official certificate of copyright registration.
Contact CIPO if you do not receive an official certificate within three weeks.
Visit, call or email Library and Archives Canada after you receive your official certificate of copyright for your photo. Ask the Library and Archives Canada Legal Deposit staff if you are legally required to deposit a copy of your photo with that institution.
Tips & Warnings
You may wish to mark the original of your photo with the symbol "(c)" followed by a space, your name, a second space and the year that the photo was published or shot. While this is not required by Canadian law, it is required by some other countries and also makes it clear that you have asserted a claim to the photo's copyright.
Download several copies of the copyright application form if you are copyrighting more than one photo. CIPO restricts each copyright application to a single artistic work.
References & Resources
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office: A Guide to Copyrights
- The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators: What You Sell
- Professional Photographers of Canada: General Copyright Information -- Photographs
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office: How Your Copyright Application Is Processed
- Department of Justice Canada: Copyright Act -- Registration
- Library and Archives Canada: Copyright
- The McGraw-Hill Companies: Canadian Copyright Law
- Copyrightlaws.com: Canadian Copyright Laws being amended by Bill C-11
- Slaw; Canadian Copyright Office; An Interview With CIPO Chief; Lesley Ellen Harris
- Canadian Photographers Coalition: Copyright Reform Process
- Mapleleafweb: Copyright Law in Canada: An Introduction to the Canadian Copyright Act
- Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images