The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 –Your photos and you

Myth – the provisions remove the automatic right to copyright for owners of photos posted online
Fact - The powers do not remove copyright for photographs or any other works subject to copyright.

Myth – anyone can use a photo they have found on the internet as an “orphan” if they cannot find the copyright owner after a search
Fact – A licence must be obtained to use a work as an “orphan”. This will require the applicant to undertake a diligent search, which will then need to be verified by the independent authorising body which the Government will appoint before a work can be used.

Myth – works will have their metadata stripped and be licensed en masse as orphans under the Extended Collective Licensing provisions
Fact – the Orphan Works scheme and Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) are separate and the orphan works scheme is about licensing of individual works.The Government will have no power to impose ECL on a sector, and the safeguards included in the scheme mean that ECL is only likely to be an option where there is strong existing support for collective licensing. Any rights holder who is worried about how their work could be used under an ECL scheme will always retain the ability to opt out.
It is unlikely that ECL will be an option for photography where there is a strong tradition of direct licensing: there is no collecting society for photographers in the UK, so no application for an ECL is feasible at present.

Myth – anyone will be able to use my photos for free if they cannot find who owns them?
Fact – If a work is licensed following the verification of the diligent search, there will be a licence fee payable up-front for its use. The fee will be set at the going rate.

Myth – anyone can use my photos without my permission
Fact – Anyone wishing to use a work as an orphan must first undertake a diligent search for the rights-holder which is then verified with permission to use the work granted by the Government appointed independent authorising body. If the work is not genuinely orphan then the rights-holder should be found, if the search is not properly diligent, no licence will be issued.

Myth – the Act is the Instagram Act
Fact – Given the steps that must be taken before an orphan work can be copied, such as the diligent search, verification of the search and payment of a going rate fee, it is unlikely that the scheme will be attractive in circumstances where a substitute photograph is available. The rate payable for an orphan work will not undercut non-orphans.

Myth – a company can take my work and then sub-license it without my knowledge, approval or any payment
Fact – The licences to use an orphan work will not allow sub-licensing.

Myth – the stripping of metadata creates an orphan work
Fact – the absence or removal of metadata does not in itself make a work “orphan” or allow its use under the orphan works scheme

Myth – I will have to register my photos to claim copyright
Fact – Copyright will continue to be automatic and there is no need to register a work in order for it to enjoy copyright protection.

Myth – the UK is doing something radical and unprecedented with the Orphan Works powers
Fact – Other jurisdictions already allow the use of orphan works. The UK powers are largely based on what happens in Canada – which has been licensing orphan works since 1990.