Meera Nair

housekeeping II – another resource

In Resources on August 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

Some days ago I noticed a query in the search terms that led someone to this site. The wording was along the lines of: “are public buildings public domain”.

I think the writer was inquiring as to what happens when pictures are taken of publicly situated buildings–that is, could the architect claim control over pictures?  The short answer (if you are in Canada) is: No.

Courtesy of our Copyright Act, Section 32.2 (Miscellaneous), this little-discussed exception allows for reproduction of publicly-situated art and architecture:

32.2 (1b) It is not an infringement of copyright for any person to reproduce, in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or cinematographic work

(i) an architectural work, provided the copy is not in the nature of an architectural drawing or plan, or

(ii) a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship or a cast or model of a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship, that is permanently situated in a public place or building

The subject of exceptions is prominent in a chapter (The System of Copyright) that I prepared last year for an upcoming edition of MediaScapes. I have posted my text here. As I indicate in the opening pages, this is not a comprehensive explanation of copyright in its entirety.  “It can only acquaint readers, in broad brushstrokes, with some of the aspects of copyright that touch us in the pursuits of learning, creativity and sharing.”


From MediaScapes – New Patterns in Canadian Communication,4th edition. Edited by Leslie Regan Shade, published by Nelson Education (released February 2013, © 2014).

With permission from Nelson Education, this chapter is posted to my blog Fair Duty. The content is governed by the Creative Commons license of Attribution and Non-Commercial use.

This chapter was written during a time of flux in Canadian copyright. The Copyright Act was due for amendment (through Bill C-32 and its later reappearance as Bill C-11) and the Supreme Court of Canada was set to review five cases concerning copyright. The amendments received royal assent on 29 June 2012 and the Supreme Court released its decisions on 12 July 2012. With much-appreciated latitude from the editor and publishing team, the chapter was updated at the eleventh hour of the production schedule to reflect the broadening of perspective regarding copyright in the new millennium. (Although, some aspects of Canadian policy making remain the same.)

I offer my thanks to Leslie Regan Shade for inviting me to contribute to MediaScapes, and to the staff at Nelson Education for their assistance. Any errors are entirely my own.

And housekeeping continues. After reviewing all 123 entries of Fair Duty, I am starting the dreary-but-necessary-task of re-indexing some of the content. The posts themselves will not change; I hope only to make it easier to find material.

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