Theft To Be Legalised
It is difficult for my opinion of this government to sink any lower than it presently does – but in my opinion with this new legislation they really have gone to the bottom of the barrel. This legislation applies not only
to professional photographers whose livelihood just got taken away by this Act, but amateur photographers, too.
It is important to realise that the Act applies to photographs worldwide. Any photographer, not just those living and working in the United Kingdom, can be affected by this.
To add your voice in protest against this nasty piece of legislation, you can sign an e-petition here:
By taking a photo (be it a simple snap or a world exclusive etc) you create it and have copyright and ownership of that image.
Basically, the new Act that has been voted through by the UK government (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which received Royal Assent) allows all work considered to be an orphan work to be used for free. Orphan works are those works whose creator cannot be found. It does not just mean this. It means any work, not just by those who have died and are uncontactable, and includes those images that get uploaded to websites, which frequently strip out ownership metadata.
IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) standard for exchanging information and metadata are something most enthusiast photographers don’t bother with (really, you should!). Photographers, especially those in the editorial markets, mostly complete in full the IPTC standard, which shows the author of the image, copyright, contact details and so on. The majority of websites, social networks etc strip out all of this data. Your precious work, even something you shot a few seconds ago and uploaded, just became an orphan work and as such, it now can be used for free and for whatever purpose the thief of the image wants to use if for.
Granted the thief stealing your work is required to show that they searched diligently (yeah, right) for the author (you) before just stealing your work and using it for free, often commercially, so making money for themselves, for which you will not see a penny. But the Act’s wording is so loose (‘satisfactorily’, ‘reasonable’ crop up a lot) and legally ambiguous that it is open to interpretation. In essence, the Act is worthless.
Although this Act still has to become actual legislation, since 1979 no Act has been voted down, so it is pretty much a formality. This is happening. The first steps have been taken and the wording is paving way for the legislation to follow.
No one who uploads photographs to the internet can afford to be complacent. Many a professional photographer’s income also comes from licensing of images. This may be the majority of their income and their livelihood. The government just took that away.
I’m utterly disgusted.
So, What Should One Do?
Before you upload pictures to the internet (especially, for example to Facebook or Twitter) you should learn immediately how to watermark your images. Watermarking means adding text and/or a logo onto your images, which identifies to whom they belong. It’s easy to do and only takes a second or two.
I use Adobe Photoshop. Also, watermarking can be done with Adobe Aperture and Lightroom, and with the iPhone, Marksta (and there are apps for Android phones).
Google and learn how to do this to protect your work in public forums. Do it now. Safeguard your work or lose it.