The Digital Economy Bill

by Nick  

There is currently a Bill before Parliament, the Digital Economy Bill. In among the DCMA-like elements and changes to broadcasting is a clause which could harm both amateur and professional photographers.

It permits the use of works, including photos, where the author cannot be identified by a "reasonable search", simply by registering the work as an "orphan" and paying a fee to a quango. Since metadata about things like authorship is so easy to strip from a digital image, this has the potential to become a publishers' charter for online image theft. If you find someone has stolen your image by claiming it's orphaned, you can claim a fee, and apply to have the orphaned state revoked.

You can read more from Copyright Action. I've written to my MP; my own letter is on the next page. You should write too. It doesn't have to be as long - but they need to know that clause 17 takes away too many rights from the individual photographer.

Personal Information Online Code of Practice

The same article refers to a code of practice for collecting personal information, drafted by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The code doesn't actually mention photography. However, the contention of Copyright Action (actually in the clarification on p2 of the comments) is that the ICO would now view it as a breach of the Data Protection Act if you took a photo, even in a public place, with someone who did not want to be photographed. This follows the High Court ruling under the ECHR that a photo of JK Rowling's son in a public street was an invasion of privacy.

In my view, this is less of a real threat at the moment, but is certainly one to watch.

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