UK Gov Passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now!
Good grief! Photographers just took another hit in favor of corporations who may want to hijack your images for their own personal gain. The Register, a leading global online tech publication, just released an article detailing a new law passed in the UK . In short, the law allows anybody, any corporation, any entity wanting to use ANY photo, for ANY reason, to use that photo without first getting permission from the photographer.
This issue relates to what I’ve been blogging about in the past concerning online publishers stripping all Contact Information (known as Metadata) from our photos when we upload them to the web. Major offenders include Facebook, Thompson/Reuters, Instagram and almost all other websites. The norm across the Internet, it seems, is most websites strip ALL contact information/metadata out of the photo that you should be adding. When this information is removed, the photo now becomes known as an “orphaned work” meaning nobody has any idea who owns it. Orphaned works, under this new UK law, are now up for grabs. The law even goes so far as to allow the THIEF to now resell that image. In other words, a stock photo agency could literally comb the Internet for orphaned works, grab those images and start selling them with no payment to the photographer. Admittedly, any reputable stock agency would not do that for many reasons, but there are plenty of other corporations, that use lots of images and are currently paying money to photographers to use their work that would. With this new law they can now skip the payment for photo usage. Nice…………….. Below are a couple of paragraphs of text copied directly from the Register’s article. This bullshit is a flipping nightmare and it has to stop. Please share this article with anyone you know. Not just professional photographers. Your party pictures are as much at risk as my entire thirty-year library of professional work.
The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called “orphan works”, by placing the work into what’s known as “extended collective licensing” schemes. Since most digital images on the internet today are orphans – the metadata is missing or has been stripped by a large organisation – millions of photographs and illustrations are swept into such schemes.
Previously, and in most of the world today, ownership of your creation is automatic, and legally considered to be an individual’s property. That’s enshrined in the Berne Convention and other international treaties, where it’s considered to be a basic human right. What this means in practice is that you can go after somebody who exploits it without your permission – even if pursuing them is cumbersome and expensive.
The UK coalition government’s new law reverses this human right. When last year Instagram attempted to do something similar, it met a furious backlash. But the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act has sailed through without most amateurs or semi-professionals even realising the consequences.