The Digital Economy Bill has passed in the UK with a vote of 189 to 47. In spite its initial controversy, many photographers are breathing a sigh of relief.
Before its passage, the bill had stirred up a great deal of unrest in the photo community with a clause that threatened photographers’ copyright ownership, but now many photographers are celebrating the defeat of Clause 43.
Clause 43 alarmed several photographers who feared that their work could become classified as “orphaned work” – a label given to work whose author or owner could not be traced. If a work is “orphaned,” it can fall under Extended Collective Licensing, and thus be legally and freely redistributed.
Given the nature of the digital world in which dissemination of information, particularly photographs, many photographers questioned how easily their work might suddenly become free and available to the public.
Following their victory, the campaign organization stop43.org posted on their blog:
The way is now open for photographers and other creatives to present new thinking enabling the legitimate use of our genuine orphan works for strictly defined non-commercial “cultural” purposes in a way that will satisfy the needs of the cultural sector, to prevent the future orphaning of our work, and to redress defects in current copyright law.
(via Amateur Photographer)
Photographers have been buzzing about the Digital Economy Bill, which is expected to shortly become law in the UK. The controversy revolves around the vague provisions for “orphaned works”, which many claim will give the government control of licensing for any photograph deemed “orphaned” after a reasonable search for the owner has been conducted. In the section “Licensing of Orphan Works”, the bill reads,
The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for authorising a licensing body or other person to do, or to grant licences to do, acts in relation to an orphan work which would otherwise require the consent of the copyright owner.
The bill proposes an “orphan works register”, to which anyone can submit photographs they find on the Internet after completing the following steps:
(a) to carry out a reasonable search to find or, if necessary, to identify and find, the owner of the interest,
(b) after the search, to publish notice of the proposal to enter the interest in an orphan works register, in a way designed to bring the proposal to the attention of the owner of that interest, and
(c) to keep a sufficient record of the steps taken under paragraphs (a) and (b) and of the results of those steps.
Once in the register, the photographs can be licensed by the government and used for commercial purposes. Essentially, this means that any photograph found on the Internet can be licensed by the UK if the person who wishes to use the work cannot find the owner after a “reasonable” search.
Here’s some further reading:
Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments!
Image credit: Police guards by italpasta