View Poll Results: Was it a good idea to change UK law to allow the use of copyrighted 'orphan works'?

25. You may not vote on this poll
  • YES - the change in law is good for creative freedom.

    2 8.00%
  • NO - copyrighted works should only be used with the copyright holder's consent.

    23 92.00%
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Thread: UK copyright law: anyone can steal your photos if they don't know who you are

  1. #1

    Smile UK copyright law: anyone can steal your photos if they don't know who you are

    To my amazement I saw a news article today that said that the law has just been changed to allow anyone who wants to use copyright material they have "found" on the Internet and have failed to identify the copyright holder, to just go ahead and use the it without consent!

    Admittedly they have to pay a licence fee to a company who will pass that on to you should you ever come forward, but isn't it a bit outrageous that your copyrighted material can be used just because you don't state your full name and address everywhere you posted it? What gives a legitimate company the right to steal your photos or posts or music for profit in some stupid advertising campaign (or whatever)?

    BBC News - Photographers' anger at law change over 'orphan works'

    Anyway (rant over!), I just though I'd ask whether people think this is a good idea or a bad one? If it's been made law, surely most people should think it's good... or are greedy and corrupt politicians once again cheating us out of democracy...? One law for individuals, whilst companies can pirate till their hard drives are full...?

    Vote now!

  2. #2


    As a part time photographer myself I've seen too many of my pics reused even to the point of having my hidden ID marks photo shopped out. Now I'm small time USA part-time photographer and have barely made enough money to pay off my equipment collection but it tics me off to see one of my pictures pop up on some porn site.

  3. #3


    The law sounds like a poor excuse to facilitate the lazy. When I was looking for a picture for the cover of my short story, "Werewolf" I made certain that I was using something that was advertised as free. Since then I bought a problem which gives me and allows me to use a number of free graphics. In essence, by buying the program, I've already paid for the pictures. Short of that, I'll go out with my camera and take my own picture.

    As a musician and a writer, I must respect the hard work of others, and the right that is owned them for that work and creativity, which is to be paid if someone uses their work for their own ends.

  4. #4


    you can understand the argument, in light of the vast amount of images, but it seems to be ill-thought out and the reasoning behind it contradictory to the reality. to be honest, and taking more than just this one instance into account, it seems that Cameron's lot have descended into madness far faster than Blair's did.

    if we were to have allowances of use, like this, it would be far more considerate if only 'orphaned' images taken by/featuring those whom could be reasonably presumed to be dead were to useable in the given fashion.
    otherwise, it's all a case of the rich being allowed to exploit the private lives of millions, and all the more so as it would be those same persons who would hold the hardware upon which the images were held (i know i don't own a server, anyway). it's all akin to One Hour Photo, but with money being the driving force.

    imagine that one of your accounts somewhere is closed, possibly due to server upgrades and the like, and you then find your personal snapshots being used to advertise tampons, condoms or sex-sites?
    the degradation/defamation/mis-representation/insult issue is already an issue, as you can see from sellers on eBay who'll advertise old photographs of men (and also preteen boys) and often tout them as 'gay interest'.

  5. #5


    While I agree in principle that there should be a process for using true orphaned images, this implementation is poorly thought out. How easy to do you think it will be for somebody to do a "diligent search" and turn up nothing, especially when they have a vested interest in finding nothing.

    To be honest, I'm more worried about this body holding the money for these orphaned images. Presumably they are getting paid money for every picture used, but they will only actually have to pass that on for the small number who come forward to claim ownership of the picture, so what happens to all that money the get to keep?
    Anyone want to take a bet it eventually ends up in Tory pockets...?
    Furthermore, is the fee they have to pay related to their use for the image. I can see the system easily being abused if it's just a flat rate.

    As for the politics, it's yet another case of politicians tagging a piece of controversial legislation onto an almost unrelated bill in the hope that it escapes public attention. There really should be a ban against that.

  6. #6


    I'm an artist and this change horrifies me. I have one piece in particular that I made about 12 years ago and it's still gettig stolen all over the internet. Once I caught a girl of about sixteen stealing it, passing it off as her own and giving it away as "free clip-art". It was easy to trace her details (she was an avid facebooker) so I contacted her and asked her to take it down. She didn't so with twenty minutes more digging I found her father's professional website and email address, so I sent HIM a polite email address asking him to do something about it. Within 24 hours, her entire "clip art" page was gone.

    I think this whole thing stinks.

  7. #7


    Is it just me or is it ironic that some of you are getting super upset over this, but yet you are pro music pirating.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by FauxPas View Post
    Is it just me or is it ironic that some of you are getting super upset over this, but yet you are pro music pirating.
    it's just you
    it's a totally different context. like with me, i've shared great parts of my life and creativity (if we're to call it that), i've not granted anybody the 'right' to take my image(s) as their own nor to exploit it for to satiate their own greed. it's called 'share and share alike'; it's what gave the internet it's life and all of the 'creativity' and 'means of expression' and 'artiness' by which netdom is so often touted as a viability.

    also, as i referred to earlier, think about websites that are no longer with us, like Geocities. now, whoever has the hardware upon which is contained all of the images previously uploaded, has the 'right' to harvest and sell those images; these will include private images, no longer accessible to the owners, not things which were put out there for public consumption.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by FauxPas View Post
    Is it just me or is it ironic that some of you are getting super upset over this, but yet you are pro music pirating.
    yeah just you. There's a very big difference between downloading some music and listening to it on my iPod and taking someone's art and using it to make a profit. Now if I put a drawing up online I'm not going to get pissed if someone downloads it and tacks it up on their bedroom wall (equivalent of music pirating) because that's what art was created to do, be enjoyed. But I will get pissed if that same drawing gets slapped on a book jacket to make someone else money.

  10. #10



    Also, the easiest way to avoid such things is don't do the following:

    Never upload RAW files(Most people couldn't view them anyway)
    Always Embed Copyright Data(If you have done this, and they've removed it, that's illegal pretty much everywhere)
    Upload in 2-6MP JPEG(Most displays can't go past this anyway, and even if someone wants a 4x6 print of it, they can do it from 2MP, provided your lens is worth a damn)
    Apply subtle watermarks in either multiple places, or simply a 90% transparency layer mashed upon the file.

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