Government say all your internet photos belong to everyone now

29 April 2013

instagram All your photos of Facebook, Instagram and Flickr may feel like they belong to you, but they don't. This isn't the tale of nefarious smallprint from tech companies, saying they can sell your snaps, but rather, something our stupid government has passed.

Basically, they have now said that the images belong to everyone, so if you're a professional or budding illustrator or photographer, a reform in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act basically pits you against anyone who wants them. In short, if there's a spat over the use of an image, the one with the most money wins.

This Act changes UK copyright law, which means that commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is 'missing' is now shunted toward an "extended collective licensing" scheme. Seeing as most big corps strip the info from photos, that means millions of your photographs are now fair game for whoever wants them.

"People can now use stuff without your permission," says photo rights campaigner Paul Ellis. "To stop that you have to register your work in a registry - but registering stuff is an activity that costs you time and money. So what was your property by default will only remain yours if you take active steps, and absorb the costs, if it is formally registered to you as the owner."

"There's value in works, and if anybody can exploit them except the person who creates them, then value is transferred to the exploiter," explains Ellis. "This is a massive value transfer out of the UK economy to US tech companies."

Arseholes.

6 comments

  • LD
    Arseholes?? Arseholes are useful :-)
  • Reg
    I see you've followed the Government's lead by copying this article from The Register. Pot, kettle, etc.?
  • Ian
    Once again I think you are scare-mongering, this is evidently a headline writer trying to create story from thin air. Any items that CAN BE SHOWN to have established ownership are not per-se 'orphaned' and copyright remains with the owner. Any obvious attempt to 'orphan' material by stripping copyright data would undoubtably be classed as fraudulant, which is of course a criminal charge! FROM THE HM GOV WEBSITE: Licensing of orphan works and extended collective licensing Amendment [X] makes a series of amendments to Clause 116 of the CDPA 1988. These amendments allow (through regulations) for a system for the licensing of “orphan works”, voluntary extended collective licensing, and a reserve power which could be used to require a collecting society to adopt a code of conduct. These amendments follow recommendations made in the 2011 Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, which were partially accepted by Government and were then subject to consultation in 2011-12. • Subsection (2) enables the Secretary of State to make regulations to require a licensing body (collecting society) to adopt a code of conduct and enforce compliance with it. The details of the power are described in new Schedule A1, which is introduced by amendment [X]. This is intended to provide a backstop for a voluntary regime in which collecting societies in the UK adhere to codes of conduct containing minimum standards set by the Government. • Subsection (3) introduces a series of sub-clauses into Clause 116 of the CDPA, which make provision regarding the licensing of copyright works. These are: Section 116A, gives the Secretary of State power to appoint a body or bodies to license orphan works through secondary legislation. Orphan works are copyright works (such as books, photographs, films and music) for which one or more of the copyright owners cannot be found. Public and private libraries, archives, museums and galleries may hold the original or a copy of such works but without the permission of all the rights holders they are limited in what they can do to make such works available for public view without threat of legal challenge. These works could include published or broadcast works or unpublished works such as diaries and photographs. Section 116A sets out the areas which the regulations governing orphan works will cover. Under the regulations the Secretary of State may appoint appropriate bodies (not the same body which wishes to use the work) to license orphan works providing the economic and moral rights of rights holders were safeguarded. The regulations will also require that a diligent search to be conducted by potential licensees before a work qualifies as an orphan work and that the regulations may apply where it is not known whether copyright subsists . The regulations limit the licences to non-exclusive rights. Sub-clause 6 contains sundry provisions, such as for dealing with the re-appearance of the copyright holder while the licence is extant and for orphan works registers.
  • Alexis
    This is the actual text: (3) The regulations must provide that, for a work to qualify as an orphan work, it is a requirement that the owner of copyright in it has not been found after a diligent search made in accordance with the regulations. It doesn't change the fundamentals of copyright, it just means that if you have some images out there with nothing to link them to you, they're fair game. All it does is protect the user from legal action if they have obtained an image and cannot find any copyright info within the file or elsewhere on the web. That sounds fair enough for somebody who has used an apparently found a public image and used it in a campaign. Imagine a graphic design company that has used a image in good faith and then find themselves and their client being sued by some nutcase who wants to make a quick buck. This at least offers them some protection if they have used due diligence. Paul Ellis is talking utter bollocks.
  • chewbaccca
    A better headline would have been "all your internet photos are belong to us". You fucking morons.
  • Kevin
    Pity people can't actually do research when they are writing such stupid headers. It's not brilliant but it's not suddenly a free for all.

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