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Re: Copyright in Photos

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  • Leslie
    Lois, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your vigilance and analyses of the privacy-access-copyright files on the various government agendas, as things
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 1, 2004
      I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your vigilance and analyses of the privacy-access-copyright files on the various government agendas, as things do seem to be getting out of hand.  If we get any more crazy and paranoid, people whose families have not done their genealogies (pre-paranoia) will be hamstrung in the next generation, with only one or two siblings to validate data from reluctantly provided census data in large centres.  That being said, identity theft and stolen databases are scary issues (probably quite rare as well) and the balance between open sharing of information and keeping information private is a delicate one.  I am really, really glad you are "there" with some sound reasoning...
      Thank goodness my sister got the negatives for my wedding photos from the photographer when my album was destroyed - we paid him to take them, after all, so I OWN them !!!  And, although the Glenbow holds some original photos of my family, they are also mine, so I will be copying the copies that we have and publishing them with absolutely no guilt!!!  I am certain that the Archives never told my family that, "if you give us this neat historical stuff, your descendents will never be able to publish a book with this picture in it without our permission"!!  This is nonsense and was not the spirit with which these photos were donated.  Where is the case for dual ownership?
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, November 01, 2004 4:28 PM
      Subject: Copyright in Photos

      This is another Bill in the Senate which will makes things very, very difficult for us.  I already have an insurmountable problem explaining to the clerk at London Drugs that the snap shots I have which have the stamp of a photography studio on the back are NOT copyright protected creations by that studio.  The studio just stamped all the photographs it processed in its mail order developing business.  She does not believe me.  Imagine having to prove who took the photograph and that you inherited the rights to it in order to get a copy made.  Imagine not being able to get copies of photographs of your family and your family's house, school, church, etc. found in archives and libraries.

      Lois Sparling

      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject:[CCC] Copyright in Photos -- Bill S-9 -- URGENT action needed [off topic]
      Resent-Date:Mon, 01 Nov 2004 12:25:56 -0700
      Date:Mon, 01 Nov 2004 14:26:01 -0500
      From:Robber <robber@...>

      Hello everyone,
      I am forwarding the e-mail below although it is off-topic because I believe
      it will be of interest to genealogists who are engaged in trying to
      influence the government on the census issue.  It relates to a bill before
      the Senate now that will re-assign copyright from the owner/commissioner of
      a photograph to the photographer.  It would mean that copyright in family
      portraits, baby pictures, wedding pictures, etc. would reside with the
      photographer and not the family.  Thus, use of the photographs in family
      histories, publications, genealogy web sites, or distribution by e-mail,
      would all be illegal, ie. an infringement of the photographer's copyright.
      This is a simplification of the bill but more detail is available below in
      the original e-mail from Wallace McLean.
      -----Original Message-----
      From: owner-arcan-l@...
      [mailto:owner-arcan-l@...]On Behalf Of Wallace
      Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 11:56 PM
      To: Wallace J.McLean
      Cc: ARCAN-L@...
      Subject: Re: Copyright in Photos -- Bill S-9 -- URGENT action needed
      The members of the Senate Committe on Social Affairs, Science and
      Technology are:
        Kirby,   Michael    Chair -   Lib.   kirbymjl@...
        Keon,   Wilbert Joseph    Deputy-Chair -   C keonw@...
        Callbeck,   Catherine S.     -   Lib. callbc@...
        Cochrane,   Ethel M.     -   C cochre@...
        Cook,   Joan     -   Lib.   cookj@...
        Fairbairn,   Joyce     -   Lib.    fairbj@...
        Gill,   Aurélien     -   Lib.    gilla@...
        Johnson,   Janis G.     -   C johnsj@...
        LeBreton,   Marjory     -   C lebrem@...
        Morin,   Yves     -   Lib.   moriny@...
        Pépin,   Lucie     -   Lib.      pepinl@...
        Trenholme Counsell,   Marilyn     -   Lib.  counsm@...
      They are under the impression that Bill S-9 and its changes to
      copyright in photography are benign and uncontroversial.
      Here's the committee hearing from last spring, in the House, where
      Nancy Marelli delivered the archival concerns re copyright in
      She said in part -- and this is absolutely fantastic, dynamite stuff:
         I'm here because there are millions of photographs in the holdings
      of archival institutions across Canada. There are more than 21 million
      photos in the National Library and National Archives of Canada alone,
      just a short walk down the street. There are millions more in
      provincial, municipal, university, and other archives across the
      country, and even more in family archives, in shoe boxes, photo albums,
      envelopes, and small paper bags. These photographs are an integral part
      of the heritage and culture of Canadian society. They tell us and show
      us who we are, what we do, and where we come from.
          The recommendations members of Parliament will make on copyright
      protection for photographs will have immediate economic implications
      for professional photographers, but they will also affect Canadian
      culture and heritage. The status report discusses Bill S-16, a private
      member's bill in the Senate. The amendments to the Copyright Act in
      that bill reflect the needs and interests of professional
      photographers. We believe the bill and the status report outline the
      issues in a very narrow way, addressing specific problems but leaving
      out other important considerations, considerations that are important
      to us.
          Committee members have heard the view of professional photographers
      and will hear that of newspapers. They have important and legitimate
      interests the committee needs to hear, and we agree with that. What I
      can bring to you this afternoon is quite a different perspective: the
      archival point of view. Archival holdings contain photographs by
      professional photographers, but these represent only a small fraction
      of the photographs taken in this country and a small fraction of the
      historical photographs found in Canadian archives. The vast majority of
      the photographs in our archives are taken by ordinary people like you
      and me, non-professional photographers.
          Let me tell you a little bit about my world. The stakeholders I
      represent are the people who are entrusted to collect, preserve, and
      make available for historical research photographs taken by ordinary
      Canadians as well as by professional photographers ten, twenty, fifty,
      a hundred, and even more years after a photo is taken. This is what
      archivists do; it's what I do.
          These photos are an integral and important part of our national
      heritage. Any recommendations the committee makes concerning copyright
      protection for photographs must ensure that the photographs in archives
      can be used for research and study purposes and don't descend into a
      bureaucratic black hole where they are not accessible to Canadians. And
      I'm talking about over the long term, not the short term, necessarily,
      or even the medium term.
          There are many copyright problems with archival photographs taken
      by ordinary Canadians. Most often, the person who took the photograph
      is unknown. Your uncle Joe, your cousin Sally, and your next-door
      neighbour don't sign their photographs. I don't know who took most of
      the photographs in my own family albums, particularly the ones that are
      a little bit older than I am. Without the information about who took
      the photograph, it is impossible to locate the copyright owner. It is
      therefore impossible to get permission for or to give permission to our
      researchers to use the photograph. If a researcher cannot get
      permission to use the photo, it sits in copyright limbo, and valuable
      historical research becomes impossible.
      ABOVE. And it has to be done on or before next Tuesday. * * *
      Some more of what Nancy had to say (again, this is dynamite stuff):
          The same questions are much more difficult and complex when
      examined from the point of view of an archivist responsible for
      providing access to millions of photographs for which there is no
      information about who owns the copyright and who took the photo, let
      alone when that person died.
          CIPPIC, who we just heard from, has put forward an interesting
      solution to address some of the issues I'm raising. They suggest giving
      different copyright protection to domestic and commercial photographs
      taken by professional photographers. We think it's an innovative
      solution, although, as it stands, as we have seen it, we don't believe
      the suggestion is workable or practical for the long term. As well, we
      think it addresses only part of the problem.
          I don't have legislation to suggest to the committee. I wish I had
      a magic wand that could fix all of this for all of us sitting at this
      end of the table, but I don't. What I do suggest is that we need to
      identify solutions other than those found in the status report. We need
      a copyright law that protects the economic interests of professional
      photographers and at the same time provides access to the vast
      photographic collections that have historical rather than commercial
      value. That's probably most of the photographs taken in this country.
          I don't know what the possible solutions are. I do know that policy
      analysts in the Departments of Heritage and Industry are trained to do
      this work. We're ready and willing, and in fact eager, to sit down and
      work with them and with other stakeholders to come up with viable
          Going forward with amendments based on a private member's bill that
      was drafted to address the problems of professional photographers will
      not meet the needs of all the stakeholders affected by this
      legislation. This would not serve Canadians well.
         I want to be very clear that I think the economic interests of
      professional photographers and other creators have to be considered,
      and have to be considered very seriously. We are fully prepared to do
      this. However, the interests of other stakeholders also need to be
      considered. This means including the interests of researchers and the
      archives and archivists who are responsible for acquiring, storing,
      preserving, and making available the documentary heritage contained in
      the many millions of photographs in archival collections across this
          My suggestion to the committee is that it recommend to the
      responsible departments that policy options be identified on the
      ownership, authorship, and term of copyright protection for photographs
      that consider all the stakeholder interests affected, including the
      economic interests of professional photographers and the interests of
      all the ordinary citizens who take photographs and record the visual
      history of our country while expecting that these will be available in
      future generations.
          The archival community believes very strongly that there is a need
      for serious policy analysis and public discussion as an integral part
      of the process for change in copyright legislation. Copyright
      legislation for photographs has important implications for public
      policy, affecting all Canadians within our society, not just one
      constituency or another. There are Canadians who would not be
      considered traditional stakeholders who want a voice in the debate on
      these public policy issues. The process should include an opportunity
      for full and open discussion and exploration of the public policy
      issues by a wide representation of Canadian society rather than a
      pressure-cooker atmosphere where powerful lobbyists dominate the
      debate. We believe this approach can help build true public consensus
      on these important issues.
          Finally, I would like to leave with the committee what we think is
      an important guiding principle: a robust public domain is an essential
      element of an informed and participatory society. Copyright law grants
      a limited monopoly to copyright owners. Copyright protection does not
      extend beyond original expression, nor does it last for an indefinite
      period of time. Facts and ideas remain outside the scope of copyright.
      At the end of a specified period of time, even protected works fall
      into the public domain.
          In the view of the Bureau of Canadian Archivists, safeguarding the
      public domain and keeping it robust is as fundamentally important as
      protecting the rights of individual and corporate owners of copyright.
          As you said yourself, the logistical issue of trying to ascertain
      who the rights holder is, and is this person dead or alive, 50 years
      after the fact.... It sounds so simple when you're doing it for
      today: “Yes, this photographer has a business; yes, he or she knows
      when the photographs were taken and knows who the photographer was who
      took it.” It's very straightforward. But 50 years down the line you're
      in a very different situation and you are in a never-never land. That's
      what we're saying.
          We have people who show up at our door, and the photograph is
      there; it's in front of them. We have it and we're willing to provide
      access to it, but we have no idea who the copyright holder is and what
      the term of protection is.
          This is a complicated issue. It's not just a question of fixing a
      little bit here and a little bit there. You're putting a finger in the
      dike and you're exploding the ground behind you.
          There's a problem.
      Ms. Nancy Marrelli: I just want to disagree with Monsieur Cornellier,
      who has said several times that it is simpler to simply do this, that,
      or the other thing.
          I think the problem is that you're talking, Monsieur Cornellier,
      about a very particular body of photographs. There are many different
      kinds of photographs out there in Canada, and I think what's simple in
      one situation is not always simple in another. I think we all
      sympathize with the problem you've brought up--certainly I do--but I
      can't say it's okay to sort of throw out the baby with the bathwater
      because you have a problem. We have to find a better fix to this
      Here are the committee documents:
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      Read Gordon A. Watts' column on Post 1901 Census issues at
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