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decosnapper

Orphan Works bill in the UK

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What if there is a car parked in front of your house and it has been there for 17 years ... but the law says to tow it, you need permission of the owner.

 

At what point would you tow the car without the owner's permission? Would you ever seek to change that law?

 

But you've extended the analogy without defining your terms. The original was about people stealing cars when you don't know the owners. You're talking about the government towing cars.

 

Given that:

 

'Stealing a car' = 'Using an orphan work'

 

in the original analogy, can you explain what 'Towing a car' means in the context of this analogy. It makes no sense to me,

Edited by wizbowes

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What if there is a car parked in front of your house and it has been there for 17 years ... but the law says to tow it, you need permission of the owner.

 

At what point would you tow the car without the owner's permission? Would you ever seek to change that law?

 

It can be a mistake to draw comparisons between copyright protected works and tangible items like cars. If someone steals my car, they deny me the use of said object but if someone copies one of my images then they are not directly depriving me of said image, just the income from a legitimate license - I still have the copy of my image.

 

On reflection I would not have used the car thief analogy in this case.

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Bad news - Last night the House of Lords debated the Digital Economy Bill and orphan works were not removed. The government seems hell-bent in pushing through this Bill in face of opposition from photographers.

 

I will update more once I have fully digested the ramifications.

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Having read the details of the debate, I conclude that HMG do not care about photography or the impact an orphan works Bill will have on it. This is irrespective of a professional or amateur perspective. They want to hand control of every unidentified image on the web to an as-yet-to-be-decided-by-civil-servants body that will, in short, f**k copyright as we know it.

 

It is imperative that as many photographers as possible write to their MP and Lord Mandelson to voice their opposition to this Bill. To find your MP, use They Work for You. If every member of Digigreen writes, then we have more than 200 emails hitting the inbox protesting at these changes. Here's a sample that everyone is free to use and amend as they see fit. I did not write it, but credit must go to Tony Sleep (see his website, if you don't know his work) for his succinct summary of the problems we face:-

 

"Re Digital Economy Bill.

 

The end game is now in sight. The Digital Economy Bill introduces orphan works rights, which - unless amended, which HMG says it will not - will allow the commercial use of any photograph whose author cannot be identified through a suitably negligent search. That is about 90% of the photos on the internet.

 

Copyright in photos is essentially going to cease to exist, since there is no ineradicable way of associating ownership details short of plastering your name right across the image. We've pressed for mandatory attribution to deter orphans being made in the first place, but nobody is listening.

Many publishers hate that idea, because it costs them money. Besides they are major creators of orphans by stripping metadata, and fully intend to take advantage of not knowing who made the photos they have anonymised. But they are Industry of great weight and value to the economy, so their lobbying is listened to and ours isn't.

 

So Flickr, Google Images, personal websites, all of it will become commercial publishers' free photolibrary. A small fee - to be decided by Peter Mandelson's office - will have to be deposited with a collecting society in case the owner spots the usage. The author who discovers his work has been used as an orphan can then make a claim and receive a percentage of the peanuts, after the collecting society has had its share.

 

This is a slight improvement over earlier proposals, whereby HMG simply planned to keep all the fees instead.

 

Essentially, if photos were cars, so long as the numberplate is missing (or you can get rid of it and claim it was), you'll be able to legally TWOC and use it.

 

The quaint notion that the author has prime and inalienable rights over his/her own work, must be able to restrict usage, negotiate a fee, prevent usage they consider immoral or distasteful, or assert their moral right to attribution, is about to pass into history.

 

I urge you to amend the Act and remove Clause 42 (Orphan works) from the Digital Economy Bill in its entirety."

 

I cannot achieve much on my own.....but collective will have an effect and get this amended. Write, and write now

 

Thanks in advance.

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Done as mentioned before but with no response.

 

There's a BSOUP meeting next wednesday. Perhaps somebody could try to rally some support there.

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Done as mentioned before but with no response.

 

There's a BSOUP meeting next wednesday. Perhaps somebody could try to rally some support there.

 

I did mention it at the Dec BSOUP but will do so again this Wednesday....and drop the Chairman an email suggesting a good idea to circulate to the member list via email too....

 

Wizbowes, thanks for emailing. Can I suggest you call the MP's office and ask why there has been no response? When I rang my MP's secretary after the most generic and bland response she suggested "...we could hope someone reads it..." I nearly blew a bloody fuse. Since when has "hope" been a strategy for success?

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If you care who uses your images and want to stop the UK government making money out of your creative endeavors, now is the time to stand up, take action and be counted.

 

Pressure on our elected representatives is now the only way to stop the Bill, and time is short.

 

Tony Sleep has put together an excellent template letter and it can be downloaded here:-

 

Template letter to your MP

 

It’s a template letter that every photographer can use, but it is far better if everyone can write their own, unique response. Campaign-style template letters receive less attention than the personal letter, so adapt it, change it - but do write.

 

Email is good - An actual paper-based letter is even better. And if you want to really get their attention, use Recorded Delivery....they might think the Fees Office are getting in touch.

 

If you are UK based and do not know the address for your MP or even their name, it is easy to find at They Work For You using nothing more than your postcode.

 

Collectively we can achieve more than mere individuals. Next time you see an underwater photographer, stop and ask them "What did you do to stop Orphan Works?"

 

If you live abroad, please send all objections to both Lord Mandelson and the Digital Bill Assistant Manager, using the template letter if needed but at least reminding them of the worldwide reach of the web:-

 

Digital Economy Assistant Bill Manager

Email:- laisze.lai@bis.gsi.gov.uk

 

Lord Mandelson:-

mpst.mandelson@bis.gsi.gov.uk

 

If you don't think it won't affect you think again. The web works here in the UK and any images posted anywhere else on the planet can be orphaned and used. The UK government has a record level of debt and would just love to use any revenue they can to repay the loans..... but is this right? Does our government deserve this money?

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I've written my MP! To be perfectly honest I can't see how any orphan works bill can operate legally if it doesn't have international agreement. Using a foreign national's 'orphaned' image will still be a breach of copyright in many countries and the potential for legal action is enormous. IF this bill gets passed I would suggest that complaining to the EC's legal department (by both UK and EC national's) may result in it being declared illegal under EC law etc., etc.

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I've written my MP! To be perfectly honest I can't see how any orphan works bill can operate legally if it doesn't have international agreement. Using a foreign national's 'orphaned' image will still be a breach of copyright in many countries and the potential for legal action is enormous. IF this bill gets passed I would suggest that complaining to the EC's legal department (by both UK and EC national's) may result in it being declared illegal under EC law etc., etc.

 

This is indeed a possible route....there is some information I would like to share on this very matter, but require permission to do so. Watch this space.

 

Thanks for writing Paul.

 

For those interested, a Facebook Group has been started to oppose the Digital Economy Bill and Orphan Works

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If people are prepared to contact their MPs can I suggest WRITING BY LETTER rather than email, and only providing name and address as this forces a written response. Not that I distrust our glorious leaders, but......

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Response (by letter) from my MP:

 

"I have noted your comments and am making your views known to the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Digital Britain, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills who is the Minister responsible for taking the Bill through the Commons. As you may know, the Bill will next be debated in the House of Lords 1st March during its Report Stage."

 

I do have to say the my MP (Betty Williams, standing down at the election to be) has always responded and has been very helpful whenever contacted (she voted against Iraq despite the Whips - not an easy thing to do apparently). So if nothing else she will have flagged up another letter of opposition.

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Looks like a lot of people have been writing. The response is partly here:

 

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/pro-types/pro-copy/c...works-photo.htm

 

 

Thanks Paul. The page is riddled with lots of kind, gentle soothing words encouraging us to trust our government.....but it short on reasoning and a connection with reality. From their assertion of moral rights preventing publishers "from carrying out legitimate editing activities and add unacceptable overheads" (Germany and France have publishing industries, with full moral rights for authors - why is the UK different?) to "licensing of orphan works would be at the market rate" (Market rate on art? Is my unmade bed worth the same as Tracy Emin's? I don't think so....) the page is littered with reasoning and argument that fails to stack up on the real, live voting planet.

 

Nice words from HMG are intended to reassure; "If it proves impossible to devise a scheme for a particular area that does not unfairly disadvantage rights holders interests, then the Government will have the flexibility to not authorise any schemes to be set up in that areas." And they are at liberty to ignore any reasoning and reality of the rights holders and carry on as they, or their BBC Worldwide/British Library lobbying, see fit.. The record on government consultation with respect to copyright does not fill me with a great deal of faith in their words.

 

It has been suggested that creatives can search the orphan works register for their images. Nice phrases like "The effectiveness of electronic searching will also increase as image recognition technology improves.". But until then what? Review each one individually? The logic is if such a search technology existed, would it be possible to use that to find the content creator instead of the reverse?

 

In summary, the document is not a cast-iron commitment or guarantee to do anything in the interests of the creator in mind.

 

But its not over yet. There are moves afoot to alter the views of all parties as to the suitability of orphans. I will update more when I can.

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Actually I suspect that the real problem will be international. Using an 'orphan' image whose owner then turns up and is not a UK national may mean that using the image (especially if its use on a world wide basis) is simply a breach of copyright in another country. I can't see a way around this and the result may be that UK users of 'orphan' works simply find themselves in trouble outside the UK. Overseas photographers take note, your images may be unsafe within the UK!

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Actually I suspect that the real problem will be international. Using an 'orphan' image whose owner then turns up and is not a UK national may mean that using the image (especially if its use on a world wide basis) is simply a breach of copyright in another country. I can't see a way around this and the result may be that UK users of 'orphan' works simply find themselves in trouble outside the UK. Overseas photographers take note, your images may be unsafe within the UK!

 

Orphans are everywhere. One country is indeed going it alone......

 

All those images posted without identifying "©my picture, my property, not yours" will be considered fair game once the law passes. Its great to show and share but for some the web is just one big, fat bucket of commercial resource that can be raided with minimal risk of penalty. It is called infringement, but that's about to change. Orphan works will legitimize this activity and the monies go to our government.

 

As a UK tax payer, facing a lifelong burden of bank bailout induced national debt, I should be grateful for every orphan that is found, licensed, used for whatever purpose and the money unclaimed. Unclaimed cash will go towards paying off the mountain of money the government gave to failed banks. But I just can't do it. Commercial exploitation of another photographers' creative endeavors is fine when the person holding the camera is rewarded, but orphan works rewards the uninvolved, the disconnected and undeserving and I just cannot endorse it. What our government is proposing is morally wrong.

 

Two things:-

 

1. Mark every image you ever post anywhere ©my picture, my property, not yours and embed your contact details in the metadata. Do it and do it now.

2. Write to your MP. Keep up the pressure. If you have had a reply, the chances are the reasoning is full of holes, lies and technically impossible ideas. Write back and point out the failings of their arguments.

 

An election is coming. There is a very undemocratic process called "Washup" were a few MPs get together and quickly rubber stamp legislation. If you want to legitimize orphan works, then sit back and do nothing. The MPs think there is no problem......if you disagree take action.

 

There is plenty of material here Why orphan works legislation is so wrong

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There is a nice illustration pointing out just one possible outcome of orphan works:-

 

sharks.jpg

 

And there is a nice shot of our Dear Leader, Gordon Brown, here:-

 

GB_in_stockings.jpg

 

Two examples of how an image could be used if orphan works pass into law.

 

If you want to take action, please visit Stop 43 for more info

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I met with my MP today. I had put together an "orphan" of my own. I won't divulge the content or nature of my orphan, but it left my MP in no doubt the implications of allowing orphan works into the market place.

 

There is a central site now, a focus of dissent - Stop43 - and there is a link to a Facebook group.

 

There are cracks appearing, but now is not the time to let up, loosen the thumbscrews and let Mandelson & Co off the hook. Contact your MP, raise your concerns and keep the pressure up.

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Getty, the international stock library representing many fine photographers, has thrown its collective weight against Clause 43 and orphan works.

 

More here Getty wades in.....

Edited by decosnapper

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It was good to see plenty of support for the stop 43 campaign at LIDS the "shark in a tin" label was used to great effect on virtually al the photo stands there.

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It was good to see plenty of support for the stop 43 campaign at LIDS the "shark in a tin" label was used to great effect on virtually al the photo stands there.

 

I had 400 printed up for the very purpose........The Shark Trust stand took a few, BSOUP had the majority and the rest were distributed on the surrounding stands. It might have just been the best £50 I ever spent......

 

It was indeed good to see people engage with Stop43. Thanks for spotting it Tjsnapper.

Edited by decosnapper

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There has been another "orphan" released, this time featuring Peter Mandelson (unelected sponsor of Clause 43 - orphan works) and David Cameron, leader of the Conservative opposition party.

 

Dave is advertising skin care cream and Mandelson, with his love for russian oligarch super yachts, is advertising russian vodka. In both cases the slogans translate as "When only the very best is good enough".

 

only_the_best.jpg

 

In either case, the scenario is the advertising company did not know who the subject was in the photo, but it suited their brand needs and requirements so the licensed the image use (after a "diligent" search, or just removing the metadata and claiming "diligent") from our government.

 

Unintended consequences indeed.

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