Thursday, April 01, 2010

Time for Action - Stop 43


I wish I could say this was an April Fool's joke but it isn't.

If you're unaware of the UK Digital Economy Bill and in particular Clause 43 then I must direct you to  Stop 43 where you can get the full details. If you think it won't effect you because you aren't in UK, think again and head to that link.

What is at stake are our rights, our copyrights, our moral rights. We as photographers should be the ones deciding how and if our work is used - it most certainly should not be left to government.

The bill sets out to deal with, amongst many things, the issue of Orphan Works. Orphan works are works for which no owner/creator can be found and without finding an owner these works have been unable to be exploited.

In comes the UK Digital Economy Bill to bulldoze its way through that impasse.

The crux of Clause 43 is this
if someone finds your photograph, wants to use it and decides that they can’t trace you, they can do whatever they like with it after paying an arbitrary fee to a UK Government-appointed “licensing body”
Read that and then read again - they can do WHATEVER they like with your work. You may be thinking well my work isn't an orphan, I have identification on it this won't effect me - you're in for a nasty surprise.

There's now something called Extended Collective Licensing
if someone finds your photograph and can trace you, they still don’t have to contact you for permission to use it. They can go to a UK Government-appointed “collecting society” and ask them instead. They’ll pay an arbitrary fee and be able to do whatever they like with the photograph
This strips away any pretence of copyright - you'll have no rights. They won't have to ask and they don't have to tell.

All I can do is put this out there for people in the UK to see and take action on and I urge every other blogger to make mention of this issue on their websites so that their readers in the UK can see just how damaging this act is going to be.

If you are in the UK you must write to your member of parliament as the second reading of this bill will be held on April 6th - time is of the essence. You must stand up and have your voice heard. If you think one voice won't do anything, think again - a mighty waterfall begins with a trickle.

Further Information
Facebook Group
Sign the Petition at


  1. Alex EkinsApril 01, 2010

    Can I borrow this excellent post for posting on a forum that needs another kick up the arse about orphan rights, it's the best summary I have read.
    You can contact me at alexekins 'at'

  2. I am a long time food blogger and I also happen to be a lawyer. I think your understanding of the effects of this bill are exactly incorrect.

    The fact is that they are required to seek you out--it's not as if they can just declare you untraceable without looking. And collective licensing is really best for everyone. How much money were you going to make off that photo otherwise?

    The fact is that most orphan works are quite old and truly orphaned. This bill preserves the ability to use the bounty of information despite the abandonment of the authors. It's a good thing.

  3. All these groups are against Clause 43:
    Association of Photographers, British Institute of Professional Photography, the British Press Photographers' Association, Copyright Action, Editorial Photographers United Kingdom & Ireland, Photographers' Agents London and Pro-Imaging

    Have they all got it wrong too? With respect, you need to read some more.

    There are so many undefined aspects to this bill - who makes up the collecting agency, what exactly constitutes a search to find an author, what is the fee, how do you claim, aspects that have been denied proper debate in the parliament. Worse, if Brown has his way and declares an election on April 6th, proper debate will be stifled again.

    You may be happy to accept things without actually knowing what they entail, I certainly don't and I don't appreciate my rights being taken away.

  4. Yeah - I think that Barzelay got it a bit backwards, but demonstrates quite well the thinking about commodities: "how much money were you going to make off that photo otherwise?"

    Right. So, because you're not making money off of it, somebody else should be able to steal it and do so? No. My works are mine, and that I'm not selling them indicates that either I'm not interested in doing such a thing, or that nobody's offered a fair price. Who is the UK, to be selling my property?

    This is rather like finding an "abandoned" car, deciding that you don't know who left it there, so splitting the profits of selling it with the government.

  5. By the way, Tin Eye (or tools like it) can be easily used to identify images which are out there, so that they could track down the owner, even if somebody has edited the photo to remove exif information (all of my photos contain my copyright statement, embedded in the exif info).


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