Infringement of Rights in Photograph

A photographer is hired to do some work on an ad campaign.  If the photographer’s bill is never paid, and the photographs are used, is it copyright infringement? 

The Copyright Act makes it clear that copyright would belong to the person who ordered the photographs.  But that only applies if the photographer is paid – no money, no copyright.  The recent Alberta decision in Don Hammond Photography Ltd. v. The Consignment Studio Inc., 2008 ABPC 9 might be the first time a court has considered those particular sections of the Act.  In that decision, the court was clear that copyright was infringed when the photographs were used without payment of the photographer’s invoice, and that statutory damages were appropriate in the circumstances.  The lessons for business? 

  • Pay your photographers;
  • When engaging an ad agency, website designer or other graphic designer, determine who is responsible for payment of photographers and other sub-contractors; and
  • Remember this doesn’t just apply to an ad campaign. The same principle applies to images used in any corporate media – websites, annual report packages, brochures, and newsletters.

Calgary –  10:30 MST

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