It seems that here in the UK, the government is about to amend copyright law by stating that any published image that appears without copyright identification (i.e. a photographers credit line) can be treated as "orphan works". In other words, once an image has been published without an author's byline, anyone can "lift" it and re-use it without being bound by copyright issues.
It would seem there has been collusion here between major publishing empires and the government, and it should alarm all professionals and semi-pros who rely in part on the syndication rights of their images for an income. It is now imperative that photographers submitting images for publication, should make it clear that a byline is mandatory upon a picture being published.
The UK folks would need to know which country the image on the internet resides then, or there will be lots and lots of international lawsuits.
In other words... Those who freely took others images growing up, now run the companies, and see a way to make more money.
I'm not a professional photographer, but I would like to have control over that which I have created.
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The UK proposal will not allow using works merely because the author is not explicitly identified. A diligent search must be made Furthermore a fee (royalty) will have to be paid to a government administrator and will be held in case the author eventually comes forward.
From the horse's mouth:
Having considered responses to the consultation, the Government’s intentions are as follows:
• Diligent search before something can be used as an orphan work is key to the scheme. The Government believes that it is important to strike the right balance between a relaxed standard of diligence and for an “awaiting claim” approach, as against ensuring that absent rights owners’ needs are protected. The Government is mindful of the need to ensure the process is sufficiently straightforward to be useful to potential users. The authorising body will verify the diligence of the searches.
• Commercial and non-commercial uses of orphan works in the UK will both be permitted, both to maximise the economic potential of proposals and because making a firm distinction between the two is difficult in practice.
• This permission should come at an appropriate price – a market rate, to the extent that one can be established (though the difficulties that may attend establishing that, for example in respect of works not created for publication that are in museums’ collections, are noted).
• This price should be payable in advance (or at agreed times if there is a royalty element) and set aside for any rights holders who may still appear even after a diligent search has not found them.
• Licences will, necessarily, be non-exclusive.
Looks like a good proposal to me. Especially the bit about a royalty still being paid in case the author emerges after an initial search has failed.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
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What about metadata embedded in the digital file that contains the author's name and contact info?
What about steganographic (invisible) watermarking? (e.g. "Digimarc.")
What about making it illegal to strip metadata and to obscure or remove watermarks?
I kinda' understand the idea behind this legislation; to streamline the fair use rules and cut red tape; but I think that the "due dilligence" rule should apply to visible AND invisible watermarking. Since most methods of digital watermarking are known, any reasonable person could be expected to look for them.
Although one could assume that, if somebody removes a watermark, they intend to steal an image it is possble for one person to remove a watermark and post an image which is then used by a second person who doesn't find one, even though they looked for it. This would put the burden guilt back on the first person and serve to protect a well-intentioned subsequent person from unintended consequences.
I expect the diligent search clause will be all but meaningless. In all likelyhood the agency charged with verifying that a user of the images made a "diligent search" will be grossly underfunded, understaffed and provided a 1995 vintage cast off pc do do the work with.
Those with solicitors on-staff will come up with myriad reasons that googling the image's file name constitutes a "diligent search", and the agency will have no choice but to rubber-stamp the claim.
Sounds to me like a great way to facilitate more theft, with a nice sanctioned out for the perps. How hard are they really going to look? How much is put in for the "royalty"? How nice of a government to set my price, after the theft.
Perhaps they need to review what 'government' sponsored business are doing in Greece :-)
My experience of the news/magazine industry is that unless a byeline appears with a picture, little or no effort will be made to trace the author. for instance, scanning pictures from travel brochures to illustrate holiday features is common practice. That picture is somebody's copyright, yet the chances of the author seeing his/her picture used is unlikely, let alone being able to prove it is his/hers. The editor of the offending publication can sit back and say they will pay upon receipt of invoice, knowing the chances of that invoice coming are pretty remote.....no photographer can afford the time to check every newspaper every day to see if a picture of their's has been used.
It's a far cry from days when the 10x8ins print (or tranny)with a clear copyright stamp was the only source of the published image, leaving no doubt in an editor's mind that use of this picture required payment.
It is now apparent that new technology, initially welcomed by professionals for its convenience, has turned round to bite them. New photographers, often frantic to see their work published, become the easy victims of unscrupulous editors under pressure from ever decreasing picture budgets.