With photographers about to lose copyright protection on their images, and the Government to curb their rights to take pictures in public, Philip Dunn looks more closely at these outrageous proposals and how they will affect you.
Photographers to lose copyright protection of their work
This startling and outrageous proposal will become UK law if The Digital Economy Bill currently being pushed through Parliament is passed. This Bill is sponsored by the unelected Government Minister, Lord Mandelson.
Let’s look at the way this law will affect your copyright:
The idea that the author of a photograph has total rights over his or her own work – as laid out in International Law and The Copyright Act of 1988 – will be utterly ignored. If future, if you wish to retain any control over your work, you will have to register that work (and each version of it) with a new agency yet to be set up.
Details about how this agency will be set up – and what fees will be charged for each registration – have been kept deliberated vague in Lord Mandelson’s Bill. If ever there was a licence to print money, this is it. You will pay.
If they are not registered with this quango agency, your images can be plundered and used anywhere, by anyone – on the understanding that the thief makes a very minimal effort to find you – the author of the image.
Currently, International Law, through the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, recognises the ownership rights of the creator of the ‘property’. This enables image owners to control how their work is used, and whether it is used at all.
International Law will be ignored by the British Government and this new Act will overturn more than 150 years of UK copyright law.
If ever there was a massive step forward to a police state and suppression of information, this is it. Most of this thieves’ charter is not even going through Parliament as primary legislation. The Digital Economy bill Section 42 sections 16a, 16b, 16c enable ad hoc regulation by Mandelson’s office without further legislation. None of that will never be voted on.
Lord Mandelson works in devious ways – he’s clever.
The Government is determined to push through this legislation without amendment by May 6th – certainly before the date of the General Election.
You can find out much more about how the your photographs can be used by going to Copyright Action. This article exposes the devious detail in this Bill and just how it will affect you as a photographer.
Photographers are to lose all effective rights to take photographs in public places.
Not content with taking away photographer’s copyright, another section of this Government is proposing sweeping changes to your freedom to take pictures in public places.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has deemed that a photograph taken in a public place may now be considered to contain ‘private data’.
This means that if you take a picture in the street and there is a member of the public in the shot, that person has the right to demand either payment – if you wish to publish the image – or that you do not publish it. In fact, according to the ICO. There does not actually have to be an objection, it is up to the photographer to ‘judge’ whether the subject might object. Now work that one out if you can.
Applied to professional photographers, this is, of course, the perfect charter for politicians, crooks, and bent officials to avoid being photographed and exposed. How many working press photographers will find themselves in court?
How easily will politicians’ nefarious behaviour be revealed for all to see?
How many innocent amateur photographers are going to be harassed and menaced by people in the street?
No matter that Britain has more CCTV cameras watching our every move than any other country in the world, in future, if you take a photograph in a public place and that image is published on the likes of Flickr – you could be liable to prosecution.
Write to your MP NOW and object to these outrageous constraints of your rights and freedom. Remember, there is very little time left.
Oh, and if you would like to use the image above on your website – please feel free.
On a lighter note, I can report with confidence that photographers who come on my Photography Holidays to Spain NEVER have to deal with these problems. In Spain common sense still prevails. Photographers there are always made welcome and you can photograph people in the street to your heart’s content. Why not come and join us – you can enjoy your hobby freely there.
Philip Dunn is a former Sunday Times travel photographer and has been a professional photographer for 40 years. He now runs Photography Holidays and Courses in Menorca and Scotland and produces instructional DVDs
Philip Dunn will be at The Focus on Imaging Exhibition Stand L47 at Birmingham NEC next week