Feeds

Photographers rue Mandy's copyright landgrab

'Orphan factory' benefits big business

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A little-reported corner of the sprawling Digital Economy Bill reduces photographers to serf status - and concerns are rippling into the wider community. Photographers say bad wording and technical ignorance are to blame for Clause 42, calling it a "luncheon voucher" for greedy publishers.

"The Bill contains no deterrent to the creation of orphans, no penalties for anonymising your work, no requirement for bylines. It is a luncheon voucher for industry hungry for free and cheap content," writes professional photographer Tony Sleep. He told us the bill legalises the machinery for creating bogus orphans works.

Photographers have many concerns, and say that two separate ideas have been munged together - extended licensing and orphan works. What the Mandybill does is formally regulate orphan works, copyright material where the author can't be found. It also grants special status, complete with immunity, to institutions to publish the works. One of which happens to be the BBC, suggesting it isn't simply museums or libraries who'll be the beneficiaries; the BBC is a commercial organisation with £1bn in commercial income last year.

One problem photographers see is that most computer software strips the metadata from digital images, creating an instant "orphan" work.

"Orphans being mass manufactured. The author becomes invisible; so copies on web just belong to nobody," says Sleep.

"The original reason for orphan works legislation is reasonable, and nobody argues with the need of museums and maybe educational to access work they can't get to," Sleep told us. "But what we've got appears to have the heavy duty interests of big publishing written all over it.

"It's a very dangerous intervention into an ecology that's already toxic."

What's yours is mine

The extended licensing means exclusive rights holders can give up those rights for a collective scheme. It's voluntary, Sleep acknowledges, and people can opt-out.

Naturally, the organisation that already administers rights for visual images has welcomed the move. DACS, the UK collection society responsible for distributing money, could enjoy a much wider role.

But Sleep fears mission creep, with powerful publishers such as News International, or digital aggregators like Google standing to gain hugely from the legislation, at the expense of the creators. No one has pushed harder for the change than Google.

Indeed, it isn't hard to envisage Google becoming a kind of New Age one-stop collecting society - one that sets its own rates (because of its immense market clout) and one that is beyond the law. Most collection societies today are member-owned nonprofits and subject to close state and EU scrutiny.

A year ago we warned that the Google Books settlement provided a template for such an organisation. Now that Google is writing UK legislation, it looks much closer. It's these latter concerns that make music and film creators anxious. "Civil servants didn't realise Clause 42 said what it said," one music business source told us.

The Lords are due to chew through the final part of the Mandybill on Monday. But Sleep isn't optimistic.

"We've been consulted for six years, and still they ignore us," he said.

Read more here and here, and the IPO's take here. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.