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Change of Legislation e-Petition

ADDENDUM 24/05/13: In the interest of fairness, I offer the following governmental response to the discussion below. Whilst this does appear to still offer a level of protection to copyrighted work, I can nevertheless see a system that remains open to abuse, albeit regulated to some degree.

To be honest, though, if the purpose of this bill was to reduce governmental red tape, why introduce a new department to oversee the administration and enforcement of licenses to use orphan works? It does not look entirely workable to me, but we should see how it goes…

ADDENDUM 13/06/2013: A further, detailed response by HM Government can be seen on the original petition page. Unfortunately, I don’t think this provides the protection HM Government seems to think it will.

A friend of mine recently brought a very serious issue regarding an immanent change in UK legislation to my attention relating to the use of online images, the so-called Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act. This legislation facilitates the use of nominally copyrighted material by third parties when certain metadata is missing.
"Copyright should be an assumed right when you take an image…"
As things currently stand, copyright is an assumed right when you take an image. It seems perfectly reasonable that if a third party wants to enjoy some form of benefit from such copyrighted images, whether that be financial or otherwise, that the owner of the image receive some sort of agreed betterment for their work.

However, that’s all set to change. In the future, the UK government envisages that if copyright metadata, or any other metadata or watermarking by which you might assert ownership, is missing from your image, then after an “appropriate search” for the owner anyone may use an image as they see fit, without any kind of renumeration required.

In theory, this is fine. In practice, it is massively easy to strip metadata from images, as any website owner can tell you. Any subsequent “search” – however cursory or, more likely, non-existent it was – could easily claim to have failed to locate the owner of the image, at which point the use of said materials for any purpose they are seen fit for is then fully legal.

There seems little way for photographers to protect themselves against this legislation, which to me seems almost designed to invite sharp practice. My friend feels the same and has taken the drastic measure of taking all his online images down except those on his Zenfolio account. And, trust me, that is a real shame.

I can only try to convince anyone reading this who is equally concerned to sign the e-petition to stop legalised theft of copyrighted material. It runs until the end of 2013.

Please do have a look at the e-petition and consider adding your name to it.

All the best,

Chasing Rays Photography.

About the Author

Mark Watkins

Mark WatkinsI've been a photographer since 2006 and a computer fanatic since 1995. I hope to share my passion for photography with you through the products and services I offer through my website. See me on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedInView all posts by Mark Watkins →

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