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How Labour’s Web2.0rhea cockup helped the photographers

Kumbaya is not a legal defence

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Maybe photographers have a guardian angel, after all. The Stop 43 campaign to throw out the orphan works clause may be the only part of the vast Digital Economy Bill where activists have achieved their goal – rather than made things worse. With the Tories pledging to drop the clause, it’s unlikely to survive the wash-up – although we won’t know for sure until very late tonight.

Eleventh-hour validation for the photographers came thanks to Labour’s obsession with Web 2.0 gimmickry, which delivered them a gift last Friday.

Labour launched a Photoshopped poster of David Cameron as Gene Hunt, which the Guardian soberly reminded us, showed “a recognition that the best ideas do not always belong to ad executives in London”.

Two Milliband brothers were on hand, looking extraordinarily pleased with themselves. Just one problem: they didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. Image rights for Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes belong to the BBC. Cameron’s mugshot is also under copyright.

“It demonstrated every point we had been making,” a Stop43 campaigner told us today. It’s not the first time Labour used images to which they have no rights.

And to demonstrate that they’re 100 per cent fail-compatible with Labour, the Webtastic Tories followed suit.

It didn’t go unnoticed by MPs.

Yesterday Peter Luff (Con.) pointed out it was a “spectacular demonstration” of Stop43’s points.

Tom Watson MP, currently with Labour but also the First Minister of Freetardia, disagreed. He arose to gave the boilerplate Web2.0rhea perspective:

“That message was mixed by Labour spin doctors, then remixed by Conservative spin doctors. He is proving the point that mixing culture and the power of sharing are new in the internet age," he said.

“That is precisely why the Bill is so incompetent. We are not going to stop people sharing content with each other and using it creatively to create new things. He should be proud that young people are mixing up these images to engage in political debate.”

Maybe.

But the problem with Freetards, even Freetard MPs – is that they don’t just miss the point, they close their eyes and run as fast as they can past it, screaming.

It was left to Luff to apply the lethal injection:

“Ah, that is a very interesting point,” he said. Luff pointed out that a quick search showed how easy it was to find the BBC original and contact the photographer. There was even a telephone number. He continued:

“We should not forget that the BBC, as this blog says, is one of the main proponents of a Bill to allow use of other people's images in ways they did not envisage without permission or payment, yet it is furious that without permission or payment someone has taken a BBC image and used it in a way that the BBC did not envisage.”

Moral copyright, or droit d’auteur, isn’t mentioned very often in Professor Lawrence Lessig’s books. That’s undoubtedly why Watson hasn’t heard of it. ®

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