What Is It?
By including ‘orphan works’ within the unrelated Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, the government has effectively given themselves the ability to be able to make changes in the future, by regulation rather than having to pass an Act of Parliament. No changes have yet been made to the UK copyright law as the regulations controlling them will not come into effect until later in the year so we have to act now as the Government will expect approval as just a formality.
Under the provisions in this ERR Act it will be legal to exploit a copyright work without the knowledge or permission of its creator. This applies not just to photographs but to music, films, books etc., by effectively permitting the Government to enable the commercial exploitation of images where information about the owner is not readily available ie ‘orphan works’. Bear in mind that most social media sites and many online publishers strip out any metadata when an image is uploaded, so the scale of this is vast and represents immense potential for those who stand to benefit.
Note that this Act does not technically affect your copyright - that is still yours but it will effectively be worthless under these provisions.
The proposal is that orphaned images, in other words most images online, will be placed into ‘extended collective licensing schemes’ which will supposedly pay a flat fee to registered creators. A potential user, on finding such ‘orphan’ then only needs to perform a ‘diligent search’ to proceed as if they are the owner of that work, with little or no account for the true author. No actual definition of constitutes a ‘diligent search’ has yet been made.
Does it Effect Me?
YES!! If you have digital files on the internet, you will, almost certainly, have orphan works.
Is It too late to do anything?
NO!! We have to collectively take a stand and fight our cause. These proposed schemes will not come into force until the regulations controlling them are enacted later this year – so we have time but make no mistake, this is our last chance to make a Google-friendly Government see sense. It will be a more difficult battle but it is a cause worth fighting for and we have some powerful allies this time. We also have nothing to lose!
What can I do?
Fight for your rights to protect your own work! Take direct action now before its too late -
1) sign the petition – http://t.co/GHGIgClrw9
2) write to, Tweet or call your MP* - http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
3) write to Viscount Younger of Leckie, the Minister for Intellectual Property* - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/lords/viscount-younger-of-leckie/4169
4) spread the word – blog, use Facebook, Tweet – get as many people as possible to Tweet about this and remember to follow @thebipp on Twitter to join in the campaign
*When writing to your MP or to Viscount Younger, send a professional letter outlining the problems as you see them and how this affects YOU. Guidelines for writing - http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Letter_writing
For more information, visit www.stop43.org.uk
What is BIPP doing?
BIPP, alongside the AOP, Stop43, BAPLA, DACS, BPPA, EPUK, NUJ and ProImaging have been collectively fighting against this for several years and have attended countless meetings with ministers, the IPO et all. It was precisely because of that concerted lobbying effort, along with the support of thousands of photographers taking direct action, that we were able to defeat the last government’s attempts and got Clause 43 removed from the Digital Economy Bill.
This time the government has taken a different tack in including orphan works in an unrelated act but lobbying has still been going on. Although they have got the ERR act through, it does not necessarily stand that they will be able to make the changes that this act purports to allow. We can stop this if we all work together.
They may have won a battle but the war is far from over.
BIPP’s copyright rep, Denise Swanson FBIPP is due to meet Viscount Younger of Leckie, the Minister for Intellectual Property on June 10th in London to discuss copyright issues.
Help her to make that meeting positive.