I’m a documentary wedding photographer based in Hertfordshire. This is a blog post for photographers, so apologies if you’re looking for my reportage wedding photography. The post just above or below is what you’re looking for.
For a little while there’s been some alarming articles and blog post circulating about impending legislation. It was allegedly going to make photographers work published online vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses looking to harvest it without paying a fee. “Orphaned works” as they are described.
Very alarmist language has been used in the various blogs and news articles. “Land grab” and “theft” have been words used in connection with the new law. It was even labelled the “Instagram Act”
I always think shining some light on the facts can help soothe the fevered photographers brow, so a few weeks ago I emailed my local constituency MP, Grant Shapps asking if any of this where true and if its was, why my livelihood was being jeopardised in this way.
As I’ve already said, this isn’t a blog post celebrating any political standpoint, merely stating some facts as relayed to me. However, I’ve always found Mr Shapps to be a helpful and hardworking MP in my personal contact with him. It’s sometimes easy to fall back on lazy rhetoric when it comes to MPs, so it’s correct that I speak as I find.
In initial correspondence, Mr Shapps stated that in order to get the full facts as applied to me, he was consulting the minister directly responsible “The Viscount Younger of Leckie”, the Minister for Intellectual Property. Yes, I was put off by the formal title too, however, the chap’s being helpful, so credit is due.
Today (16th July 2013) the reply arrived straight from the House of Commons, dated 10th July. It’s not my intention to quote the whole document verbatim here, I’ll just use the salient quotes, however if you want to see the whole thing, drop me an email and promise to buy me a tea, and I’ll send you a scan of the whole thing.
Mr Shapps’ letter says in the main body:
“As you will see from the minister’s response attached, he states that a number of your concerns are based on a number of press articles which have contained inaccurate or misleading information.”
Enclosed was a letter from the Minister, (also the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills) sent in reply to Mr Shapps enquiry and addressed to him personally, dated 6th July.
In the main body of the letter, he says, referring to me directly
“I appreciate the concerns raised by your constituent. However, many of these concerns are based on a number of press and web articles published recently have contained inaccurate and misleading information about how the measure for an orphan works scheme included in the ERR Act will work.”
He goes on to mention at length the fact sheet produced by the Intellectual Property Office, and continues, (this is the important bit),
“I should like to stress that the mere fact that metadata may have been removed from a copyright work will not mean that it would meet the criteria for an “orphan work” under the scheme. The scheme will not allow the use of copyright works for free and without permission. It will only provide for the licensing of genuine orphan works – copyright works where the copyright holder is unknown or cannot be located after a diligent search which has been verified by the orphan works authorising body. The scheme will require the potential user to purchase a licence from the authorising body after verification of their diligent search. What constitutes a diligent search will be covered in in regulations and guidance which are being developed with a cross section of stakeholders. Copyright will continue to be an automatic right and there will be no need for rights holders to register work in order for it to enjoy copyright protection.
Further information about the measure and the Hargreaves Review can be found on the IPO website at http://ipo.gov.uk/types/hargreaves.htm “
The attached information sheet (Fact Sheet – Orphan Works Licensing Scheme and Extended Collective Licensing) is 5 pages, so forgive me for not posting it all here, however, here is a significant element:
“ The scheme will not allow anyone to use copyright works for free and without permission. It will not legalise the unlicensed use of foreign work in the UK nor prevent right holders in other countries from licensing their exclusive rights in the UK. The scheme is not yet operational and cannot start until regulations have been passed by both Houses of Parliament. There will be no need to register works to ensure the copyright in them continues to exist.”
I’ve always believed facts and evidence rather than rumour and conspiracy theories, so I find this hugely helpful and informative, far more so than the disinformation being spread.I’m also realistic enough to know that all new legislation needs testing by individuals and by the courts but as a professional photographer I found this correspondence very helpful and reassuring indeed.
Maybe more bloggers and journalists should seek out the facts prior to writing scaremongering and inaccurate posts? Just a crazy thought.
This post first appeared on the blog of Bob Owen Photography and is copyright as such.
Please feel free to share or to speak to me about this correspondence.