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In Canada, if an event organizer hires a photographer for a private event, can the organizer ask to get the photos with exlusive publishing rights without a signature logo? Thus denying the photographer the ownership and authorship of the photos?

I could compare it with when Toyota (event organizer) hires a car designer (photographer) to produce a design, the resulting design is owned and authored by Toyota, with no credits to the designer.

I can't compare it with an architect producing a design because of course the design must be linked to the architect, not for credits reason, but for liability and insurance. Whereas in the case of a photo, there is no such concern.

Could you clarify please?

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  • The absence of a signature logo, or even the granting of exclusive publishing rights, in no way automatically denies the ownership of the copyright of the images to the photographer.
    – Michael C
    Jul 8 at 20:15
  • @MichaelC Can you back your horrendous comment with some reference? Jul 8 at 20:52
  • Photographers in pretty much every country that belongs to the Berne Convention (most of the world) own the copyright to photos they take unless they specifically assign the rights to others (or in the U.S. take them under a "work-for-hire" agreement with their full-time employer in the performance of their normal duties - Canada has no work-for-hire provision, the author is always the photographer). Granting exclusive publishing does not include ownership unless specifically stated in the contract/sales agreement. It's been covered here ad nauseum before.
    – Michael C
    Jul 8 at 21:17
  • capic.org/copyright-laws
    – Michael C
    Jul 8 at 21:46
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It depends on the nature of your contract when you hire the photographer.

Some photographers used to charge a low fee for shooting the event and make their money selling prints and digital rights to the images. This is common particularly in events where there are a lot of people who might like images. This used to be very common in weddings[1].

Other photographers charge a much higher fee and basically work as private contractors so the resulting images are owned by the person who hired them. This is more common in commercial work, and the contract I used most often for advertising and editorial work as well as corporate clients and events.

Between the two extremes is all the minutia of reproduction rights management. Are the images licensed to you for non commercial use only? Are there limitations on where and how they can be displayed? Are you allowed to edit and make derivatives?

Always discuss this with the photographer before the event while you're negotiating the price. Odds are they will have several options and pricing schemes available.

I've had problems several times where a client did not read the contract I sent over and as a result thought they had purchased rights to the images that would have cost them thousands of dollars more to actually acquire. (For example, a restaurant that had hired me to do some promotional work tried to sell the images as stock photography after they went out of business.) I eventually had a short summary section added at the top of my contracts that enumerate what they are required to do, what they are paying for, and what physical material or digital rights they are purchasing.

[1] As prints have become less common and digital presentation has become more common this has dwindled considerably. Though as a result the base cost of hiring most experienced wedding photographers has increased considerably.

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  • 1
    "This is common particularly in weddings..." might have been true a decade ago and was certainly true two decades ago. Not so much any more, at least not in my part of the world.
    – Michael C
    Jul 8 at 20:18
  • @MichaelC Quite true, hopefully you'll forgive the lapse as I retired from photography about 10 years ago and had enough corporate and commercial clients I never had to take on shooting a weddings for a solid decade before that. I'll edit the answer to an alternate example. Jul 8 at 20:36
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    It's pretty much the same deal for event shooters. Almost all now only count on the up front fee for shooting the event. The shoot on spec for potential print sales model is dead for pretty much everyone except school class photos, and they're requiring exclusive contracts with school systems these days (so schools can't hire/pay others to shoot sports/events/prom/etc.) in order to come shoot the class photos.
    – Michael C
    Jul 8 at 20:55
  • @MichaelC I wonder if it's regional, my last couple little league tournaments still had the big photo trailer hocking bad overpriced pictures. If it dies out, all the better :) I guess everything that's left is basically minutia of digital reproduction rights and much harder to sum up briefly. Those exclusive contracts can be really annoying too. A couple years ago I was volunteering as a photography teacher for the local school system and the school picture people (name redacted) sued the school for breech of contract because students were taking pictures with DSLRs at school events. Jul 8 at 21:23
  • Those kinds of sports shooters at youth sports disappeared here over a period from about 2010-2015. Also at marching band competitions and many other similar types of events.
    – Michael C
    Jul 8 at 21:49

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