As the song goes ‘There may be trouble ahead’…except this time there is no ‘maybe’ about it. For those that recall the less-than-wonderful “Clause 43” of Labour’s “Digital Economy Bill” which proposed to legalise the use of Orphan Works and Extended Collective Licensing – well, despite its defeat it’s back and this time it’s personal.
Hidden away in a completely unrelated Bill – namely the ERRB (the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill) – are pretty much the same clauses that got thrown out before. The IPO (Intellectual Property Office) – a bunch of Patent-based Civil Servants in the fashion of Sir Humphrey from “Yes Minister” – were so miffed at their attempt to undermine photographer’s copyright being defeated that they’ve snuck their insidious plans back into Parliament hidden in a bill that has absolutely nothing to do with copyright.
There are many reasons why every photographer should be up in arms about this and we’ll list them below summarized by people who know far more about this than myself. The really, really important thing is that we still have the opportunity to send Sir Humphrey back to his Gentleman’s club in Pall Mall with a flea in his ear. They think it’s all over but it bloody well isn’t.
We still have time to effect change to the bill and even get the clauses thrown out (they shouldn’t be there anyway) but we have to act fast. We have to lobby the Lords and then we need to start a firestorm on our MP’s.
Interestingly we have some strange bedfellows as allies on this one including The Associated Press, Getty Images, Reuters, British Pathe, The Press Association, and the Federation of Commercial and Audiovisual Libraries, who have formed the International Media & Archive Consortium. They are threatening a judicial review should the bill become law, but it would be in everyone’s interest if it didn’t get that far.
This affects everyone who works in this country with a camera in their hands.
You all have to take the time to read what it means for you. Even if you just read the summary we’ve provided you’ll garner enough information to include in a letter to your MP or one of the Lords listed.
But it really is in our/your hands to do something for the good of all photographers working in the United Kingdom whether they know it or not.
The proposals hidden in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill would do very serious damage to the livelihoods of UK photographers if adopted. We believe that the clauses should be removed rather than amended because:
- They should be subject to full parliamentary debate, not buried in someone else’s bill and secondary legislation.
- They rob photographers of their rights.
- They would not create economic growth, they would damage it.
- They break international law.
- They would be subject to judicial review even as they are passing through the Commons.
- They allow no room for the new “Copyright Hub” concept which, given time to get working, would deal with most of the problems.
- They are no substitute for a dedicated and properly considered Copyright Bill – this is nothing more than a rights-damaging fudge proposed by the Intellectual Property Office.
At some point the IPO should learn to realize that the intellectual property that they are supposed to look after is not only that of big business, inventors but that of hundreds of thousands of small businesses and sole traders whose combined worth to the UK’s economy is substantial.