The digital age has drastically changed the way we take and share photographs. Today, anyone, anywhere, can use digital cameras take and store hundreds of photos in minutes. Even phones today double as cameras.  Internet services such as social networks provides the perfect platform to easily enjoy photography as a hobby or social tool. With one snap and click, a photograph can instantly be made public to millions of people online. What rights do you as a photographer have in all of these photographs? Are you free to distribute them on the Internet? Are you allowed to take a photograph anywhere, of anyone? What restrictions are there on photographs taken of you? This FAQ tries to answer these questions by shedding light on copyright and privacy laws that apply to photography.

Note: The information provided in this document is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice. Moreover, it addresses only some issues in the laws that apply to photography, and only under the law in Ontario, Canada. While the laws that apply to photography in other common law jurisdictions (e.g., other provinces in Canada excluding Quebec, England, Australia, the USA) are based on similar principles, they can vary in important respects. If you have questions about how the law applies in a particular situation, you should consult a local lawyer. CIPPIC gratefully acknowledges the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in the creation of this FAQ

Copyright in Photographs

Ownership of copyright

Copyright Term

Individual Rights – Waivers

Liability for photographing intangible property

Liability for photographing real property



Further Reading

  • Ysolde Gendreau, Axel Nordemann & Rainer Oesch, Copyright and photographs: an international survey (London: Kluwer Law International, 1999)
  • David Vaver, Copyright Law (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2000)