back to article UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now

Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr? If so, you'll probably want to read this, because the rules on who can exploit your work have now changed radically, overnight. Amateur and professional illustrators and photographers alike will find themselves ensnared by the changes, the result of lobbying by …


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  1. Turtle

    Probabliy better understood as...

    "'It's corporate capitalism,' says Ellis. 'Ideally you want to empower individuals to trade, and keep the proceeds of their trade. The UK has just lost that.'"

    It's probably better understood as fascism, not corporate capitalism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probabliy better understood as...

      "It's probably better understood as fascism, not corporate capitalism."

      Not a lot of difference. Both boil down to "the strong take what they want; the weak take what they're given".

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Probabliy better understood as...

        As I recall my 20th Century history, corporate capitalism is a component of fascism, but fascism needs a few other things. It does seem to be adding up. The ECHR was constructed partly as a barrier to Fascism, so the way the government seems to be talking it up as a threat to freedom is a bit worrying. There are other signs.

        We're on the road.

        We can still turn back.

        1. jason 7

          Re: Probabliy better understood as...

          How exactly? The powers that be have reconstituted all the western political parties into 90% identical groups. There is a small amount of difference to make it look like there is choice but the basic underlying agenda is to allow their controlling status quo to carry on unhindered.

          There is no legal democratic way to change anything now. Whomever you vote for, the 1%'s government always always gets in.

          If you decide to fight for change then you are simply a 'terrorist'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probabliy better understood as...

      It always amazes me the difference between replies to photographic copyright and music/movie copyright

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Probabliy better understood as...

        The difference tends to be you're talking about an individuals work that directly impacts them in some way to financially benefit a corporation. As this isn't about photographic rights, but all copyright (writing, indie bands, indie producers, blogs, vlogs, tweets, these comments... etc)

        While in the other case an individual is downloading something they probably wouldn't buy anyway for personal enjoyment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probabliy better understood as...

          "While in the other case an individual is downloading something they probably wouldn't buy anyway for personal enjoyment."

          If they enjoy it why wouldn't they buy it? This "I wouldn't have bought it anyway" argument always comes up and it's always bollocks.

    3. LarsG

      Simple to

      Simple to strip out identifying features of a hoot, claim you searched for info , couldn't find any so used it anyway.

      A theft charter I think. Unless it impacts the luvvies brigade there will be no Leveson enquiry.

    4. Cameron Colley

      Re: Probabliy better understood as...

      "Corporate capitalism" is a contradiction in terms. What we have is not capitalism but corporatism -- sadly these thieves are branded as capi8utalissts when they are demonstrably not. Corporatism is tribal fascism and has nothing to do with capitalism.

  2. dave 158

    Ready ? No, surprisingly

    The one active register, PLUS, reckons they're still in development and asking for beta testers.

    Almost like it was planned.....

  3. Ketlan
    Thumb Down


    Looks like theft to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Theft

      Same here, it appears that the UK is attempting to legalize actual copyright theft, i.e. claiming copyright for other peoples work.

      However, does making a law in one country make it legal in any way in other countries?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Theft

      Hmm, your TV doesn't have any meta data, saying it is yours, that'll be mine then...

      I can see this as the beginning of a slippery slope.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Theft

        I was thinking the same thing. Do you remember ASCII art? What about abstract ASCII art that is really just the contents of track 1 off of the 101 Dalmations Disney soundtrack?

      2. P. Lee

        Re: Theft

        Put your TV out on the kerb for all to see and yes, people might watch it and it would be difficult to charge for it. If they deprive you of it, then they would be in trouble.

        A brutal question would be whether we are a net importer or net exporter of such items.

        I'm getting some popcorn and waiting for someone to reskin Windows and strip the titles from a Hollywood film.

      3. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Theft

        You can't copy a TV just by looking at it.

        On the other hand, my TV is limited in time and space. To get to it, you have to commit a common law crime of violence. In the process you will have to likely destroy more property and set off a nice alarm that will let the well armed neighbors know that some shenanigan is afoot.

        I can copy "your precious intellectual property" just by browsing the website where you posted it for the entire world to see.

        It's more like you dragged your most precious possessions to the local flea market and posted a sign saying "free stuff, take all you want". Then you get you kickers in a twist when stuff is actually taken.

    3. JeeBee

      Re: Theft

      Are there any tools being written that will update the metadata on images on your internet accounts?

      I.e., automatically download, add metadata (both alongside the image, and embedded in the image via steganography and similar techniques), reupload to overwrite.

      This metadata would contain ownership information, image licensing details, etc.

      And which sites disallow overwriting images that have been uploaded, as they need to be avoided. Facebook is a bit of code away from being a massive source of "orphaned" images (no metadata, despite the fact they'll be connected to an account on their system).

      Also, digital cameras need the capability to set owner information on all images at the point of capture.

      1. Stuart Halliday
        Thumb Up

        Re: Theft

        Jpegs and other modern filetypes have the ability to hold metadata within them. It's just few people bother putting their details in them. Of course it's just as easy to wipe it too...

        Any decent graphic file viewer will allow you to edit/read this data.

        Irfranview is one golden oldie freebie that's been available for years for example.

      2. J5m1th

        Re: Theft

        Metadata can already record ownership details etc, and Pro / Semi-pro models can embed this information on the photos they capture. I've set my EOS 5d mkII to record my name as the copyright holder.

        The problem is, that sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc strip all metadata. In theory you could download a photo from Flickr (for instance), and as it has no owner information attached use it with impunity, you just need to prove that you diligently searched for the owner, and how can that actually be proved?

        What needs to happen, is for all major photo sharing sites, such as those listed above, to not strip metadata from photos.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fine by me. As far as I'm concerned, anything I put upload to a public website I am throwing out there for free and I fully expect it to be copied, used in crappy power point slides or maybe even sold (though who'd want my crappy holiday snaps I don't know).

    However, if I were a professional or even semi-professional photographer or a visual artist of any kind I would only upload low-res, watermarked images. It's not exactly like it's difficult to do a quick resize and paste a layer on top.

    1. Slumberingjournalist

      Re: Fine

      Good article, Andrew!

      @AC - "FIne By Me"

      True to a point, my friend, but you and the two click-wits who upvoted your comment are missing the subtleties of the issue.

      Like most pros, I _do_ watermark my photography exactly as you suggested. However, when someone licences that work for use, say as part of the graphic design on a web site or in an online PDF or whatever, they clearly _don't_ use my picture with the watermark in place. End-use doesn't work like that.

      As you've probably started realising... if someone then extracts the un-watermarked picture from the client's product, and removes the metadata (easily done by accident or deliberately), then the photographer's traceability is seriously compromised. The work is as good as orphan.

      And in anticipation of any tards who might say 'you sold it once, so suck it up': in most cases, photographers need to sell a picture multiple times to earn a crust. Why? Because the big picture libraries have spent the last couple of decades driving the unit costs of photography down to chickenfeed.

      Wonder if they'll benefit from this new legislation?

      1. Badvok

        Re: Fine

        @Slumberingjournalist: " The work is as good as orphan."

        Since there are no actual regulations nor any actual regulator in place yet, just a bit of legislation allowing the process of putting them in place to start, I think it is a bit early to make that claim. All the furore about this legislation seems a bit premature. Nobody is losing any rights to be fully rewarded for their work, this legislation simply allows works that have no identifiable owner to be used if the, yet to be created, regulator/licensing authority agrees that adequate attempts have been made to identify the owner.

        The only real change is that countless existing works that have no identifiable owner can now be used, rather than wasting away in repositories where nobody will ever see them - isn't that a good thing?

        Even if your work is 'accidentally on purpose' considered 'orphan' you do actually still retain the copyright to the work and can pursue the user for compensation or issue a take-down notice - may I repeat myself - you don't lose any rights with this legislation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fine

          " this legislation simply allows works that have no identifiable owner to be used if the, yet to be created, regulator/licensing authority agrees that adequate attempts have been made to identify the owner."

          But given how trivial it is to remove metadata or simply avoid ever having it, how can anyone prove that you didn't make adequate attempts? I can't think of any method even slightly effective against, say, a technically competent 15-year-old with a computer.

          "Even if your work is 'accidentally on purpose' considered 'orphan' you do actually still retain the copyright to the work and can pursue the user for compensation or issue a take-down notice"

          Well, as I say, there's not much chance of getting compensation as you won't be able to prove malice and if they've sold 10,000 copies of the image by the time you find them then not only will you not get compensated but you'll have 10,000 other people who think they own a legitimate copy and no way to tell a court any different.

          It's a complete shambles of an idea and at the end of the day there was absolutely no need for it. I think one could make a reasonable case that this is a public-office corruption case waiting to happen.

          1. Stevie

            Re: Fine

            "Well, as I say, there's not much chance of getting compensation as you won't be able to prove malice and if they've sold 10,000 copies of the image by the time you find them then not only will you not get compensated but you'll have 10,000 other people who think they own a legitimate copy and no way to tell a court any different."

            But who would *buy* an image if it is as ridiculously easy to steal it as you seem to believe? This resaler -from-hell scenario would seem to be an unlikely development.

            I'm just a little confused as to what the photographers want done about the situation. As another commentator has said, putting stuff on the internet is handing it out free.

            It occurs to me that one might use the same technique as used by encyclopedias - that of adding artifacts to the image that act in place of a signature. Kind of like what Cuneo used to do with the mouse, only in a way that is completely transparent to someone viewing the picture for its own sake (rather than trying to find the signature).

            Metadata in a picture can be lost by the simple act of CTRL-PRINTSCREEN, and a determined thief would have far more sophisticated methods at his or her disposal, seems to me.

          2. hayseed

            Re: Fine

            "Adequate Attempts" for numpty users probably won't even include looking at metadata.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fine

          Only if payment for use of a work must be made when/if that work is known to be owned, and the bill is retro-active to the first use.

          No one (with any sense) would use a work for which they might, retroactively, have to pay $0.10/copy for the 3 million copies they made.

        3. Mr Flibble

          Re: Fine

          It may be too early to make the claim that, with metadata removed, the work is as good as orphan – but it is definitely not too early to make people aware that that could happen.

          However, I suspect that this aspect of the legislation under discussion is ‘merely’ to make common practice legal…

        4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Fine

          Now it's odd - you are quite correct and yet you have a lot of down votes....

          Lesson 1 in life - Nobody wants to learn the truth if it will spoil a good knee-jerk reaction...


        Re: Fine

        >And in anticipation of any [free]tards who might say 'you sold it once, so suck it up' [...]

        Nice strawman you've got there, but it isn't the case.

        Most of those people who take issue with the bloated, tumour-like nature of modern copyright (referred to by yourself as "tards") are opposed to people making money from other's works. Believe it or not there's common ground here, provided you're prepared to look past divisive, ignorant labelling and unthinking sloganeering.

        This new legislation does the reverse of what those wanting a more leaner, fairer copyright regime - it allows the powerful and rich to hoover up other people's copyrighted works and exploit them for profit. Of course, being rich and powerful, all they had to do is spend some of that money to gain the complicity of our useless, ignorant, self-interest-peddling politicians, to make their actual piracy (claiming other's works as their own property) legal and blessed by the state.

      3. ender

        Re: Fine


        > As you've probably started realising... if someone then extracts the un-watermarked picture from the client's product, and removes the metadata (easily done by accident or deliberately), then the photographer's traceability is seriously compromised. The work is as good as orphan.

        Use a reverse image search tool, such as Tineye or Google Images (click the camera icon there) - both are surprisingly good at matching images, even when they have been cropped and recoloured.

  5. jake Silver badge

    "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

    No. Because I'm not an idiot. My stuff is on my systems.

    But thanks for asking.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: "No. Because I'm not an idiot."

      You are a bit up yourself though.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @sabroni (was: Re: "No. Because I'm not an idiot.")

        I prefer "to the point". I make a living at it. Your mileage may vary.

        Carry on.

    2. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

      "My stuff is on my systems."

      Out of interest, how much did that cost you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

        "Out of interest, how much did that cost you?"

        Well, you can buy a good quality 3TB hard drive for under £100. You can protect your 3TB of data with RAID for, say, under £500. Sounds a bargain to me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

          yes, I hear raid is fantastic against fire and theft.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

            Raid is not for backup. Backups are for backups. Raid can help with drive failure to some extent though.

            However, you think Flickr backup your photos? That other more copyright protected options are not available? Wait one second while I go find somewhere less conspicuous and laugh my socks off...

      2. jake Silver badge

        @S4qFBxkFFg (Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?")

        It doesn't cost much. See this thread:

        I forgot the 99 year lease on the Bryant Street colo ... I'm about a third of the way into it. At US$1.00/yr.

        Could I start from scratch, today, 35 years on? Probably. My daughter's version is quite functional ;-)

  6. aBloke FromEarth

    Excuse me

    ...while I spend the next few hours watermarking my entire flickr collection.

    Rotten swines.

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Excuse me

      I should probably check, but I was under the impression that Flickr did provide ownership controls that updated the EXIF metadata?

      It'll be interesting to see how defensible the claim of orphaned work is.

      1. Turtle

        @Ian Yates: Re: Excuse me

        "It'll be interesting to see how defensible the claim of orphaned work is."

        Incorrectly formulated. Try "It'll be interesting to see how cumbersome and expensive it will be for a work's creator to contest a declaration that his work is an "orphan" (especially if he only finds out about it after it has appeared all over the web in an advertising campaign or if he doesn't find out at all) and if it will have any effect once that declaration is made in the first place, regardless of any legal remedies provided - which assumes, in its turn, that there will be any sort of effective remedy provided in the first place, and again assuming that that remedy will be meant to aid the creator as opposed to simply making life more difficult for him - as Sen Ron Wyden (Fascist-Oregon) attempted to do here is the US by introducing a bill that would transfer jurisdiction of copyright-infringement suits to the International Trade Court in Washington DC."

        Although somewhat involuted, that's better now, I think.

    2. The BigYin

      Re: Excuse me

      Bit late now. Those images will be sat in a cache now, ripe for the plucking.

    3. Andrew Moore
      Thumb Up

      Re: Excuse me

      No need- the way I can see to safeguard yourself against this is to create a gallery of all your online images and make sure they are tagged (by EXIF and captions) and accessible to image matching sites like TinEye. Then if someone uses your imagery without your permission claiming it was an 'orphan work', you can prove that they did not perform a "diligent search".

      1. Wize

        Re: Excuse me

        @Andrew Moore

        There are many images out there that, when fed into Google Image Search and the likes, will give hundreds of entries. Seeing the large quantity of results, will be an excuse to say they couldn't find that drop of water in the ocean.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Excuse me

          ...There are many images out there that, when fed into Google Image Search and the likes, will give hundreds of entries. Seeing the large quantity of results, will be an excuse to say they couldn't find that drop of water in the ocean...

          Your view of the legislation is laughably incorrect!

          If you are responsible for carrying out a proper due diligence search on millions of images then you have to do it. Properly. You can't just say "I thought it looked difficult, so I didn't bother". Or rather, you can say that, but the Judge will reply "You admit you didn't do it properly - Guilty".

          If you do do a proper job, but still end up using someone else's work, then they don't lose the copyright. They can come after you, have it taken down, and be paid compensation from the fund that you HAD to set up when you started using orphan works.

          If they try to delete the metadata and claim that it's not your work - well, they could do that anyway now. This law doesn't make it any easier, or any harder....

      2. TomChaton

        Re: Excuse me

        The legislation specifically names registries that you have to use.

        It seems to me to be that diligence in this case means searching the registries.

        If that's prohibitively expensive, then the only recourse would be legal action which is beyond the means of most people / organisations.

        Pirates, because they're cool. And this amounts to legalised piracy by the big meedja boys.


      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Excuse me @Andrew Moore

        I've just done a reverse search on tineye of the cloud banner on, result "0 Results - Searched over 2.6364 billion images."

        and the "flickr from YAHOO" logo, result "Your image is too small. Try uploading a larger image."

        Neither had identifying EXIF data, they are now mine. OK, I might have a problem claiming the logo but the clouds?

        If such images viewed millions of times can't get on tineye what chance does a less popular image have. You can submit your images to tineye but at the moment I'd argue that the process is not very user friendly especially for those more interested in photography than editing xml files and there is no guarantee they will accept your submission.

        Note: I also tried a few users images off flickr, none found.

        1. Marina

          Re: Excuse me @Andrew Moore

          I tried a tineye search on one of my images which have been distributed by a photo agency, and which also has been widely distributed on the internet via less honest means.

          On the positive side, tineye indicated the agency as the source of the image, but listed multiple sites which are using it in violation of copyright law before Flickr, which is the original source of the image. I even found the image on the website of Los Angeles based celebutard-photo agency <a href="">BEImages</a>! Why they want a photo of a fat squirrel I don't know, but I guess it means he's a celebrity now!

    4. Dave Bell

      Re: Excuse me

      I'm puzzled here

      If somebody has posted images to a service such as flickr, don't they have to have an account, with a contact email address and all that?

      So how can $_CORPORATE_PIRATE claim due diligence if they don't get in contact with that account holder?

      I can see how a failure to answer can be too easily be taken as proof of an orphan work, but not even trying would be a clear step too far. This is going to depend rather a lot on how the courts decide such details, it still looks like a bad thing, but are people missing something? Is it data in the image file, or does the context matter? Is a notice on my web page sufficient?

      1. aBloke FromEarth

        Re: Excuse me

        Do a screen grab. Crop it, or change the colours a bit so it's not easily searchable.

        Now it belongs to world+dog.

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Excuse me

        Image matching (eg, Getty PicScout) is now fast and reliable.

        A registry of images (eg the copyright hub) would provide the author info. Large users who solicit and use "unidentified" photos (eg Daily Mail, BBC) could be obliged to register them. Metadata stripping is already illegal.

        So Registry + ImageRecog + Law solves the Orphan Works "problem" with the law we already have, it removes uncertainty for users and creates a new market. This is all photographers were asking for here.

        Other people have other agendas.

        Of course, some people were in a hurry. When the

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Excuse me

          "Metadata stripping is already illegal."

          But nearly impossible to police.

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: Excuse me

            "Metadata stripping is already illegal.' But nearly impossible to police."

            You'd be amazed how the prospect of dropping a bar of soap in the showers can focus the minds of a senior media executive.

            1. Roo

              Re: Excuse me

              I really don't see why would it focus their minds, after all they have employees they can send to prison on their behalf.

              1. Turtle

                @Roo: Re: Excuse me

                "I really don't see why would it focus their minds, after all they have employees they can send to prison on their behalf."

                Those employees will be falling over themselves for the opportunity to make a plea bargain and get a light-to-very-light sentence in return for rolling on whomever they can, and turning state' s evidence.

        2. Turtle

          @Andrew Orlowski: Re: Excuse me

          "Metadata stripping is already illegal."

          It's not really illegal until the courts have started enforcing it. Have they? Has the BBC deleted the huge number of images from which they routinely strip the metadata? Or are those and similar thieves and thefts sort of grandfathered in, or does the law making metadata stripping illegal grant them some kind of amnesty?

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: @Andrew Orlowski: Re: Excuse me


            "It's not really illegal until the courts have started enforcing it. Have they?"

            No. Good point.

        3. Ian Yates

          @Andrew Orlowski

          "Of course, some people were in a hurry. When the"

          ... comment was written?

        4. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Excuse me

          How does the Reg feel about their IP being protected, professionals being protected and commoners, hobbyists and startups not having this protection?

    5. John Keogh

      Re: Excuse me

      Don't bother. If you put a visible "watermark" on your photo, no-one is going to want to look at it.

      The way I read this article is that only orphan works are affected. If it's on Flickr, it's on your page with your title, description, date, tags, EXIF and other metadata. Definitely not orphan.

      1. Stuart Halliday
        Thumb Up

        Re: Excuse me

        Put your images on a web site. Make sure catalogues it and you have a history of your image.

        Also do a trick owners of paintings do. Cut off an edge and put that cropped image out there.

      2. Marina
        Thumb Down

        Re: Excuse me

        And when have people stopped downloading images from Flickr, removing metadata, and uploading to other sites?

  7. auburnman


    ...but from the article it does look like there are a number of options to resist this and try and get it repealed. Here's an angle that occurred to me - if works with no metadata have lesser legal rights now, could the big organisations such as the BBC who routinely strip metadata before using works be reasonably accused of fraud?

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Ominous...

      As I understand it, what the BBC does is already illegal/unlawful (I think illegal), under the terms of some new digital copyright something act (think DMCA watered down a bit). ISTR that there is specific language in the act making it illegal/unlawful to strip out the ownership details from a file.

      The BBC says that they can't help it; it's their systems that do it, however the EXIF ownership info comes from the system that was put in place for photographic pictures for journalism, about the time that fax was invented. The BBC’s systems must just be a bit behind :/

      Someone with a proper internet connection could probably find the relevant deatils on the UK Gov copyright pages.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: Ominous...

        "EXIF ownership info comes from the system that was put in place for photographic pictures for journalism, about the time that fax was invented"

        No, I don't think so, except by hyperbolic analogy. The fax was invented in the 19th century(*), a few decades before EXIF...

        (*) FFS, there was a commercial telefax service between Paris and Lyon in *1865*!

        1. Stuart Halliday
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ominous...

          Forget EXIF. You want to use IPTC.

          EXIF is for hardware info. IPTC is the meta tag system you need to use.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Ominous...

      Probably not, because you'd have to prove the metadata was being stripped knowingly with a view to commercial benefit, and not because of some technical reason - such as the fact that it's a bit of extra work to put metadata back into images after you (e.g.) resize them.

      And you could make a case that even if the metadata was being stripped deliberately - well, so what? It's not actually illegal if the owner has given you usage rights by agreeing to your T&Cs.

      None of this is good or moral, and - as an occasional semi-pro photog - I certainly find it offensive personally.

      But clearly the answer isn't to argue the toss legally - it's to make sure that no one ever votes the wankers in again.

      1. D@v3

        Re: no one ever votes the wankers in again....

        not sure about you, but I sure as hell didn't vote for the coalition government this time round, not sure anyone did, that's part of the problem.

        enough people obviously voted for part of it though, to let them get close enough to sneak in.

        Slightly better than before I guess, when we had a PM that no-one was even given the chance to vote for. (Gordon Brown, for those that don't remember)

        1. MarcF

          Re: no one ever votes the wankers in again....

          "Slightly better than before I guess, when we had a PM that no-one was even given the chance to vote for. (Gordon Brown, for those that don't remember)"

          I don't seem to recall ever having voted for a PM, because that's not the way our system works.

  8. Roger Stenning

    Took the words right out of my gob.

    "Royally Fucked" indeed.

    I take it that since they've robbed us of our IP, they're going to tear up the country's ratification of the Berne Convention as well, then?

    I didn't vote for these useless twats, and here's a perfect example of why: They have NO respect for anyone but their own bloody cronies and soft-money backhanding buddies.

    Fucking outrageous >:-(

  9. triceratops triceps

    well, shit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    What about all the large UK tech companies?

    >"it marks a huge shift in power away from citizens and towards large US corporations"

    Picking on the poor Americans today, are we?

    1. breakfast Silver badge

      Re: What about all the large UK tech companies?

      I'm pretty sure large US Corporations are not poor.

      1. Thomas 4

        Re: What about all the large UK tech companies?


        Probably because of all the money they have made from other people's images.

    2. DavCrav

      Re: What about all the large UK tech companies?

      "What about all the large UK tech companies? "

      Name some. (That will benefit from this law change.)

  11. Crisp

    Oh this will be fun :D

    There's lots of things that can be rendered as photographs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh this will be fun :D

      Do you realize how large of an image it would take to 'display' Steamboat Willie'?

  12. Jamie Jones Silver badge


    Icon says it all

  13. triceratops triceps

    I'm guessing watermarking will become much more common.

    is there a way to make a watermark that's not obvious, but is still there when meta data has been stripped?

    will we see a new feature in our cameras and phones, to provide automatic watermarking?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      >I'm guessing watermarking will become much more common."

      ...and watermark removal software will become extraordinarily popular...

    2. Ru

      is there a way to make a watermark that's not obvious, but is still there when meta data has been stripped?

      I know Digimarc have been offering a reasonably robust imperceptible watermarking service for some time now; possibly there are other similar companies out there. It isn't a trivial task, unfortunately.

    3. S4qFBxkFFg

      "is there a way to make a watermark that's not obvious, but is still there when meta data has been stripped?"

      Steganography. Use the least-significant bits for the RGBα. For 24 bit colour, this gives 4 bits per pixel, meaning for 1600x1200 you could have about 940kb of uncompressed byte-per-character text using lossless image compression, if my maths is right.

      The trouble is, if it's that low-level, any sort of image processing would probably get rid of it. Something could perhaps be done with ratios of dominant colours, but that sounds horrendously unreliable and would itself mess up an image.

      I fully admit I know very little of this area, so probably best to wait until someone more knowledgeable contributes - I know movie studios do it with their output so there must be a way (but that might just be audio...?).

      1. Dom 3

        "This paper describes a new and novel steganographic method for inserting secret information into image files. The method uses fractal image compression techniques in the production of these steganographic image files. The method allows a user to specify a visual key when hiding the secret information. The visual key must then be used when retrieving the hidden data. The paper describes enhancements to the method which may enable the steganographic data to survive through normal processing which reduces image quality. The method may therefore be used to insert copyright labels into image files."

        1. Anthony Cartmell
          Thumb Down

          Steganography is no use

          Inserting copyright information into an image so that it's hidden from other people is no use: I just copy your image, fail to read the hidden copyright info, and proceed to make use of it as I want - it's an "orphan" image as far as I can tell.

          Adding copyright info to images in easily-discovered format is easy, and is done as a matter of routine by professional photographers. The problem is that it's trivially easy to remove this information, and to pretend it was never there. Once you've done that, the new Act means you can use the image however you like, as you are now unable to discover who owned the copyright of the original. Or, even better, get the image off a third party website that grabs images, strips the copyright, and re-publishes them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Steganography is no use

            The "key" is optional (else "password"). Likewise with it being "invisible" too. It's the most the process and software can do. You can always scale it down or apply it with a logo and other meta data. However the "invisible" data is harder to remove, so provides better traceability for instances where the other data has been scrubbed.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not good for whistleblowers

      I've tended to think being able to upload a photo anonymously to be an advantage. Watermark stripping software has legitimate uses for whistleblowers who want to report evidence of wrongdoing without being bullied and theatened.

  14. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Re "Royally Fucked"...

    Hmmm... I'm not sure I could have put it quite so succinctly or clearly myself - but you are correct : royally fucked indeed!!!

    IMHO this is just another step in a steady and ongoing land-grab by goverments and the large corporates (supported by governments) - the ultimate aim of which is "ownership" of the internet and everything on it for the purposes of monetisation and to stem the free-flow of ideas and communications.

    But this one really concerns me. I have no doubt that someone somewhere already has written, or is writing a nice little script that will effectively and in bulk/batch, remove all of that nice metadata that should point to its creative origins, and I also have no doubt that these persons won't be putting as much effort into trying to find the true owners of these pseudo-oprhans - as they have been putting effotts into creating them in the first place.

    Worrying. Very worrying.

    1. rhdunn

      Re: Re "Royally Fucked"...

      The removal of metadata from photos and other electronic documents should be illegal. It's like taking a document that says "Copyright (C) YYYY Author. Licensed under whatever conditions the author has chosen.", removing those and claiming it is orphaned. You are not allowed under law to do that, so the same should be true with the metadata a document/photo has, because the metadata is part of that file.

      This would, IMHO solve the problems here, in addition to educating people about providing metadata for their work just like educating people about adding copyright notices to their scripts/books/poems/etc..

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Re "Royally Fucked"...

        I may be wrong (it has happened before apparently but I don't recall when) but I think you will find that this removal of metadata already is illegal as it is the removal of a mark of ownership to avoid having to acknowledge the originator or to pay them a fee for the use of the photo.

        It is covered in the Theft Act ...

        "A person appropriating property belonging to another without meaning the other permanently to lose the thing itself is nevertheless to be regarded as having the intention of permanently depriving the other of it if his intention is to treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights; and a borrowing or lending of it may amount to so treating it if, but only if, the borrowing or lending is for a period and in circumstances making it equivalent to an outright taking or disposal." - Theft Act 1968

        1. Dave Bell

          Re: Re "Royally Fucked"...

          Caution here: There may be distinctions in law between physical property and copyright. Tje term "intellectual property" can be very misleading.

          You would think that the Theft Act covered motor cars, but they still have to use "Taking Without the Owner's Consent" for a lot of cases. Even clearly physical property is not that simple.

          I'd be inclined to look closely at the law on fraud.

          1. Kevin Johnston

            Re: Re "Royally Fucked"...

            Just as an aside, the TWOC bit came in when people claimed no intent to permanantly deprive or make money etc etc etc. The crooks tend to know exactly what is needed to prove an offence and so are one step ahead of the legislation...

            The TWOCers then started using 'pool cars' with no declared owners so they had to be dealt with through no insurance etc etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re "Royally Fucked"...


        I'm not sure making it illegal to strip the metadata will solve the problem (it will give recourse but you will have to find the culprit first). It will only take one person to strip the data and republish on any site for everybody to be able to use the image, once that happens the image gets spread far and wide on other sites,from where it can be used and spread ever further, etc- so who is going to track down which site had the original 'stripped' image? You will be on a hiding to nothing with that.

        On the good side though, I foresee lots of tv programmes being uploaded with blurred channel logos and stripped credits - which I believe now makes them 'orphaned works' and legal to use (and obviously download first) as there is no metadata or information on ownership - after all, what constitutes a 'diligent search' anyway? I think once corporations start having their content spread far and wide due to this (e.g the BBC) there may be some backlash against the law.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re "Royally Fucked"...

          Or you could do what Maddox did:

  15. g e

    So.. if I just...

    Convert The Hobbit part 1 into many still images stripped of any meta info I can legally distribute it for free as long as my diligent search, unfortunately typo'd as 'Film about a small jolly fellow' didn't turn up The Hobbit.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: So.. if I just...

      "Series of pictures about a small jolly fellow", surely!

  16. BenR

    Facebook / Instagram etc.

    "For the first time anywhere in the world, the Act will permit the widespread commercial exploitation of unidentified work - the user only needs to perform a "diligent search". But since this is likely to come up with a blank, they can proceed with impunity."

    Surely if you have an account with the like of Facebook or Instagram and you upload photos to it, then such a 'diligent search' should turn up the fact that the photograph is associated with you, and thus you own the rights to it? Alright, the meta-data might be deliberately stripped by the uploading process (I hope they get caught out doing that as it'll be fun!), but if it's in your account as uploaded by you on such-and-such a date...?

    At the very least it should give companies a starting point to find the creator of whatever it is, and you'd like to think that if they are ever taken to court that the beak in question would look unfavourably on a company who hadn't gone past even the first level of checking?

    Or am I being hopelessly naive? Or perhaps missing something startlingly obvious?

    The real question I suppose is "How diligent is diligent?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @BenR - Re: Facebook / Instagram etc.

      I think your points are quite valid.

      A further point is that Facebook Terms allow them to commercially exploit what you've uploaded and we therefore might find Facebook and similar sites actively protecting that benefit, effectively attacking the non-dilligent on the user's behalf. Or maybe offering such a service at a price?

    2. triceratops triceps

      Re: Facebook / Instagram etc.

      perhaps image searching may expand to Facebook and other sharing services?

    3. qwarty

      Re: Facebook / Instagram etc.

      You are being hopelessly naïve. An image may start on facebook but go through any number of copies, (maybe with modifications, metadata changes) to other places before the copyright thief 'discovers' it to claim as their own work.

    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Facebook / Instagram etc.

      If you were to assume that being present on a website shows ownership, then what prevents someone taking your image, forging some metadata that 'proves' that it was taken earlier than you posted it, and the accusing you of stealing the image yourself! Being posted to a web site is just not enough, especially if you are dealing with Instagram or Google

      When it comes to identifying photos, diligent will mean either a quick check for the presence of metadata, or an incredibly huge and impractical manual search of millions and millions of images.

      As far as I know, automatic comparison of pictures is still an inexact science, which means that it will be very difficult to automate the process of working out whether a picture is the same as another picture that someone claims ownership. It's probably easier with scanned film than digital images, because you can look for grain pattern and defects, but even that can be altered with digital filters.

      Considering what is done routinely to crop, rotate, change the colour pallet, touch-up and resize images, you would have to have some means of automatically and reliably hashing a picture using the major distinctive features and be able to discriminate between different pictures of the same subject.

      I'm sure there must be some major research going on, but I would think that any research will mainly be working on identification of the subject, not proving that two images are the same. Whether one can come from the other is a moot point, but without this technology, I would be much happier without this legislation unless you make it a major crime with appropriate punishments to strip or forge metadata.

    5. Not That Andrew

      Re: The real question I suppose is "How diligent is diligent?"

      Indeed that is the real question. For example, let's say you have a Facebook acount which you don't pay attention to any more, which you posted a whole bunch of photos to. Now a proper diligent search of just Facebook would, for example, reveal your name is Ben R Blogs, you live in Neasden, are related to Joe, Sue and Sam Blogs, attended St Custards Comp. and Footlights College, Oxbridge and work or worked for Initech and Acme Corp. This should be enough to find your present address, phone number and email and contact you. The content scrapers idea of a diligent search would be leaving a message on your wall or a PM and lifting the photo's after a week of no response.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook / Instagram etc.

      @BenR Probably being hopelessly naive :-)

      You post an image to instagram, somebody downloads it, strips any metadata (if present) and resizes it. Then they upload to imageshack (easy to do anonymously). A mega corp (with whom the downloader may/may not have any association) fidns the imageshack image (or anybody else for that matter) and spreads it around the web. During which time it gets reuploaded to imageshack many times, and used on several web sites. How would anybody be able to link this image back to your instagram account? What would they search for exactly? And how would you be able to identify who to sue, as everybody would say 'it was on imageshack/website x, etc). Good luck tracing the upload history to find the stripped source (and hence original culprit).

  17. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Free for all!

    So let's see if I've got this right.

    Once a work has become "orphaned" then this new british law will allow anyone and everyone to copy it, modify it, sell it or give it away. You can "orphan" a work by removing any meta data the image contains and doing a cursory search in a single registry to see if the piccy is listed there.

    However, if you <err ... > come by an already orphaned work on a website - maybe a photo-sharing for the sake of argument, then you can do whatever you wish with it. And if it just happens to be similar to, but sufficiently different from, a famous original such that your registry search would come up negative, well, that's too bad.

    Now, I can't see how the "britishness" of this law comes about. Will the ability to claim a picture only apply if it was "found" on a UK website, or can it be "found" anywhere so long as the finder was in Britain at the time (in reality, or virtually) - or what? And does it offer any protection at all if someone in another country appears on the scene and claims ownership of the image and sues your ass off in another country, of their choosing?

    Finally, what is a movie, if not a series of images (none of which individually contains ownership material) all strung together in a particular order? .... I really can't see this Act doing anything except muddying the waters and giving the BIG GUYS more power, while not treating the little guys in the same way.

    1. ncosgrave

      Re: Free for all!

      Good point on the "britishness" of this law. I know one thing for sure, anyone based in the UK finding and use any of my crap images will be sued in an Irish court. Such actions are normally taken in the plaintiff's jurisdiction, not the respondent's.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corporate Capitalism == Capitalism

    The idea that there is a form of capitalism -- the courageous individual battling and competing in a vibrant marketplace, winning through their brilliance and skill -- set against corporate capitalism -- a few rich corporations buying the laws that they want, is rather flawed. This latter is capitalism. Rule by those who have all the cash.

    Still, rather than entering a rant, why not plan some practical laws to enable registration of metadata. Something like, "if you want to own this, put your name in the EXIF metadata, and anyone found removing this deliberately will be committing fraud". In practice, anyone who failed to find EXIF metadata is unlikely to be able to use "due diligence" as a defence anyway.

    1. Anthony Cartmell

      Re: Corporate Capitalism == Capitalism

      Yes, but how do you find out who removed the EXIF data?

      "I got it from Google image search, your honour"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Corporate Capitalism == Capitalism

        You don't need to.

        "It was publicly available on google search with my metadata attached, and a clear license statement, so they didn't do a very good search".

        Due diligence requires some, well, diligence.

  19. Frankee Llonnygog

    The UK gov has just turned Flickr intothe new WikiLeaks

    Upload a photo of a leaked secret doc to Flickr

    Diligent search doesn't find the original (it's secret!)

    Gov can't make a good case for copyright (it's secret ...)

    Anyway, it will be fun watching the collision between this law and the DCMA

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK gov has just turned Flickr intothe new WikiLeaks

      Ever heard of the Official Secrets Act?

  20. nuked

    How does this give the 'BIG GUYS' more power? If anything, it severly limits their ability control their own copyright and therefore greatly devalues their IP.

  21. xyz Silver badge

    Lolcats...a warning from history

    I oan all yoos asses now

  22. Colin Miller

    Is a "diligen search" well-defined? Does that include running the work through services like Tineye, Shazam, etc?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's in an image

    If we just have a black & white image we can map 1s and 0s from anything into the image, MP3, software, anything binary, so, anything on a computer.

    Then have a 'diligent' look for a strange picture of garbage, not find anything similar and you now have an orphaned public domain image trivial to convert back to the original format.

    1. PatientOne

      Re: What's in an image


      You could also convert the raster image to Vector, then match the vectors. It's a lot faster and adapts to resizing. Clipping can be handled, too. Set the comparison to return % accuracy and point to the nearest matching originals and there's your searching done.

      Of cause, someone would have to set up such a system first.

  24. El Presidente

    @Pete 2

    "I really can't see this Act doing anything except muddying the waters and giving the BIG GUYS more power, while not treating the little guys in the same way."

    That's how it was designed. That is exactly its purpose.

    A solution for a problem which didn't exist. Royally fucked is an apt description.

  25. Jon Smit

    Who are the Freetards now ?

    Mr Orlowski ?

  26. Dave 15

    Our special relationship

    Our 'special relationship' strikes again. Once more the UK government (and it is true of both Labour and Conservative through history) have bent us over and presented our collective........ for the US to have its wanton way with - naturally without any reciprocation, and payment or any benefit for the UK - there are probably 'personal' payments and benefits for the legislators and civil servants involved - but certainly nothing for the rest of us.

    Time and again - over this, over our industry, our defense, our going to war at the Americans request. Ever since they really put us over the barrel in the second world war, used us and the Russians to defeat the Germans and taking everything we had to pay for it then coming along pretending they did the work and hoovering up the entire world to form their own mega empire.

    Guess we don't have any choice now ... we could fight back but we've sold our soul, scrapped all our industrial might, our ability to put together a fighter plane or missile, and sit and watch without a care while the USA takes from everyone (and I do mean everyone) to spend more on 'defense' than the next 20 or is it 30 biggest spenders can afford. Why? To maintain an offensive capability that ensures all but a few renegade nations bend over and do as they are told.

    1. Turtle

      @Dave 15: Re: Our special relationship

      I am going to give you a little hint, a few little whispered words that will help you understand the world and history maybe just a little bit better than you do now.


      Okay, here it is! "YOU DID THIS - ALL OF THIS - TO YOURSELVES."

      Now, armed with this knowledge, you can begin to understand the world in which you live, and how it got that way. (I know, you're upset that your rulling class and political elite didn't deliver the UK to Stalin but you'll just have to get over it.)

  27. James Pickett

    If metadata (e.g. exif) can be automatically stripped, how can you prove that it was ever there in the first place? There must be some mileage in a subtle watermarking program (or digital signature) that is harder to remove...

    1. robin48gx

      you could I suppose use an MD5 sum

      If you have an original work, you could register it (by posting it to flickr say) with an MD5 sum of the full size orginal, with the exif data in it. That way you could proove it was your image at such and such a date

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still easy to remove

      If the image is subtly watermarked (or digitally signed) then a screenshot will get around that. If the image has hidden metadata, and the user does not know how to find it, then they can use the argument that they couldn't find the proper owner (and it was orphaned). If the image has hidden meta data and but it is known how to extract it, then this knowledge will be used to modify it/remove it. There is no easy solution to this.

      At some point people are going to have to realise that once you put something in the public domain, it is in the public domain - and your ability to control its use (or even monetise it) becomes severely limited.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "There must be some mileage in a subtle watermarking program (or digital signature) that is harder to remove..."

      These already exist. But the point of the act is not about being able to prove that the work is yours. In many cases it would be straightforward to prove that you were the orginator of content regardless of metadata or watermarking. The act has been drafted and will be passed so that content scrapers and other thieves are able to freely exploit your data, having "found" that their copy of the content had no metadata, and after a quick Google they couldn't find anything to link it to you, and being able to prove that you are the owner won't help you.

      Now, at the marginal end of this, I'd be totally relaxed about somebody copying a picture of mine for personal use, and even for the real low rent commercial purposes, like sticking in some crummy work Powerpoint. But that is also not what the act is about. It is an attempt to intentionally legalise theft on a grand scale; in the short term it will undoubtedly be rubber stamped by the Westminster Benevolent Home for the Spineless, Workshy and Hard of Ethics. In the longer term it can't possibly have a good outcome, and exposes the tawdry, inept and incompetent nature of British government for the world to see.

    4. Slumberingjournalist

      @James Pickett

      Sadly, no mileage really.

      To be effective, the watermark/metadata needs to be applied by the publisher (and any subsequent publisher) and not the creator. Most professional creators (i.e. those making IP that has actual value) are already smart enough to mark their property.

      Think about what a picture goes through, commercially. It might get cropped, retouched, colour-corrected, flipped, scaled, collaged; it could be re-saved into a format that doesn't support EXIF or similar; or it could be embedded in a container such as PDF or SWF. But legally, it's still the same picture.

      Any subtle watermark or metadata applied by the creator runs the risk of being deleted as part of a commercial production process; while any mark that is unsubtle is liable to render the work unsaleable in the first place.

      One alternative to the database that's being proposed puts the onus on the publisher rather than the creator and goes like this:

      All publishers need to be forced to publish a rights credit along with any picture they publish. And ideally that means a human-readable credit embedded on the picture; plus machine-readable metadata as well. And the definition of publisher needs to be extended to cover everyone (much as libel does), and not just the big players.

      Some photo libraries such as istockphoto (owned by Getty Images) already have clauses in their Ts&Cs that penalise customers who pay for picture licences but publish the pictures without source/rights attribution.

      It's do-able in law but not likely to happen because the Tories will bleat about "Red Tape" harming business until your ears bleed.

      So instead the creatives get tied up in blue tape. Thanks, Dave.

  28. Winkypop Silver badge

    Wow, just wow.

    Just goes to show that the Internet is forever.

  29. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    How things move

    Funny how all IP laws seem to move towards what suits big business.

    I can't see how hard it would have been to deal with orphaned works in a fair manner: for example, you can make use of it without risk of prosecution, but if the legitimate owner turns up then some reasonable compensation is due along the lines of some fraction of a professional's fee.

    1. JimC

      Re: How things move

      Yep... time for people top realise there is no "Big Content", its all about Monstrous (in more than one sense) advertising...

      Its especially ironic when people talk about rights societies, which are basically just co-operatives for creators of all sizes, as supposedly being part of the mythical big content.

  30. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Steganoraphy tools to become mainstream?

    I guess that with the ability to strip Exif (I already do this anyway to any images I upload) and watermarks, all we are left with is to encode some data using steganographic techniques into the image. That way, you can prove that you are the owner by being the only one able to decrypt that bit of the image.

    In other news,

    UK & US Gov's sponsor development of automatic steganography detection software.

    Seconds out round 6?

    The only solution is to NEVER share anything but postcard sized image that is compressed to JPEG level 2 or 3 (i.e. crap).

    Paris because she loves being seen clearly.

  31. MrSmash

    Who does this actually benefit?

    I'm not sure why people keep saying the 'big guys' will be happy and that US companies are the beneficiaries of this?

    Facebook/Twitter etc already have total ownership and rights to anything you upload (you did read their terms didn't you?). I would have thought that people like Getty, Reuters, AP etc are going to get royally pissed by this once their images start getting ripped off and used for free. It's not just images either, from what I've been able to work out from a quick scan it just refers to 'Works' rather than images so it covers pretty much anything. So once people start redistributing Amazon's books with all metadata removed I guess they may start getting upset as well....

    A typical bit of legislation created by intelligent politicians after lots of well thought out consideration for the implications it will have. Not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who does this actually benefit?

      So if I strip all the identifying meta data off a recoding of Wagner's ring then if it getd tormented its OK?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who does this actually benefit?

        Only if it's an image.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who does this actually benefit?

          But why only images?

          Surely an orphaned work is an orphaned work or are we saying that there are different categories of orphans now?

    2. ncosgrave

      Re: Who does this actually benefit?

      Facebook do not have total ownership of anything you upload. Read their T&Cs!

      For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).

      Ditto with Twitter...

      You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

  32. GreyWolf

    A Point Being Missed...

    Everybody is talking about suing the thieves. To do that, I have to know it has happened.

    How will I ever know that has happened, except by chance? The images could be used anywhere, in any country, on any medium.

    I will have to run searches to detect abuse of my images. I will have to run the equivalent of the Google spider with the TinEye image comparison built in. It's not practical., I don't have the resources. In the end, I'll get shafted and never know.

    Mind you, if we all club together, build a server farm out of old computers, then run lots and lots of Google spiders, we can bring the web to its knees, and show the government that they can't expect the new Benefits system to go on working while they are simultaneously shafting the citizenry.

    1. seraphim

      Re: A Point Being Missed...

      If you never knew it had happened, how could you sue them with or without this?

  33. Wild Bill

    So if I find an 'orphaned work', am I allowed to add my own ownership details to the metadata and sell it on iStock? Could I then sue anyone else using the original orphaned work (or perhaps even the poor schmuck who originally published their photo online without knowing anything about this law and the need to digitally sign your work).

  34. PyLETS

    copyright != human right

    It's in the US Constitution for a utilitarian purpose: promotion of the arts. It's in neither the US Bill of Rights, nor the European Convention on Human Rights. As a way of treating a kind of property which isn't taken away from its owner by being copied this may be in the Berne Convention, but as a utilitarian property right this is trumped by freedom of expression. For example being able to point your camera at a wall containing corporate designs and logos in order to capture what's happening in front of the inescapable background.

    While the legal precendents and historical effects of tightening up this regime due to big media lobbying influence are long standing and well known, the UK government is starting to recognise that this makes for a very different kind of sense once electronic storage and transmission makes copying trivially easy for everyone, a matter of routine and very much unavoidable. They've made a start, but haven't gone nearly far enough in my view.

    1. John Lilburne

      Re: copyright != human right

      Blithering freetard.


    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: copyright != human right

      In other words, PyLETS, you have absolutely no idea you've just been shafted.

      This is *very* bad news for the lube industry.

      1. DragonLord

        Re: copyright != human right

        Unfortunately the US isn't signed up to the universal declaration of human rights

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well named: it's a serious erra

    First they came for the photographers...

  36. blcollier

    Bigger watermarks it is then

    I've used watermarks on all my "proper" photos (i.e. not the drunken mobile phone snaps) for a long time now, but they can easily be cropped out. EXIF data can easily be stripped, and steganography seems to be a bit of a dead-end in this case - if $random_person/$random_company on the other side of the globe starts using your images without your permission, how the hell are you going to know about it let alone run their copy of the image through your software...?

    I guess the only realistic answer might be a watermark that covers the entire image...

  37. graeme leggett Silver badge

    One hope?

    Since it is the Statutory Instruments that will have the actual content of the law, there is a possibility that

    the appropriate SI does not come around for a while, by which point some opposition could have been mustered.

    The Act includes some more headliney (even noteworthy) targets which might receive preferential treatment - eg "shareholders of UK quoted companies binding votes on directors’ pay"

    Spotted this one in the mix "•Removing the need for retailers to notify sales and hiring of television sets" - presumably the requirement was linked to the TV license

  38. heyrick Silver badge


    So now we need a server with upload capabilities. People can upload MP3s. All metadata will be stripped, and the files will be given sequential filenames and offered to download freely. 123456.mp3 might be a chart hit, Johnny Cash, or somebody's baby gurgling. Who knows? Who cares?

    Let's see if those normally hyper protective of their rights feel the same as us when the shoe is on the other foot, eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good

      Why pick on musicians? You speak as though it's them who are trying to shove an orphan works bill into law, not the government or tech lobbyists. Musicians appreciate the importance of creators' rights probably better than anyone, having had their work looted in the interest of Big Tech for over a decade. These are issues that all creators working in any medium must combat together.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Good

        I'm not "picking" on musicians. I suggested MP3 for two reasons - the first is that the usual sorts of fines and punishments for downloading songs doesn't exactly fit the crime (recall the Pooh Bear laptop fiasco - and that was for a failed attempt to download), plus MP3s are a lot more managable on the server side - as opposed to video which is not only vastly larger in filesize, but also comes with the hangup of numerous encoding formats in several different types of "container". That's why I chose MP3. Not to kick musicians.

        However, certainly, I agree with you that people who create content (<cough>that would be all of us!) need to fight this as it is the slippery end of a steep slope.

  39. toffer99

    One more piece of

    Everything this government does turns to shit, from the economy, the privatising of the NHS, the benefits system and on to this atrocity.

    It feels to me ( a non-millionaire average bloke) as if a malevolent bunch of aliens took over after a war I somehow didn't notice. Did the Nazis win WW2 after all?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One would wonder what would happen if the orphaned image contains something illegal. Would anyone want to claim ownership? Would anyone dare? And if so, would the courts accept 'well it was orphaned, so anyone could claim ownership' as an excuse for doing so?

    Not that I would ever advocate using the law against itself.

  41. SkippyBing

    Crown Copyright?

    You do feel the Government will come to regret this when all their Crown Copyright* imagary appears as orphan works on the internet. Even the secret stuff, I mean no due diligence search is ever going to turn up a photo of the inside of GCHQ.

    1. El Presidente

      Re: Crown Copyright?

      They buy the images from photographers, silly, they don't magic them up out of thin air.

      And for all those saying watermark; you can't sell watermarked images.

      When you sell a non watermarked imag and someone nicks it, strips the metadata ....

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Words on paper

    It is difficult if not impossible to determine the ramifications of this law just based upon a short article such as this. Ownership and exploitation motives create strange bedfellows and heretofore unknown enemies. I'm sure there will be a variety of court cases trying to determine just what the hell these words on paper mean and whether it is in conflict with other words on paper and what they mean. Of course it's just text on paper and all the argumentation is only for those who adhere to words on paper or think others will.

    Even once they determine what they think the words mean comes the difficulty of enforcement.

    Now let's discuss the technological side. Anyone who reads tech material these days has surely come across various references to "big data". We have yet to come to grips with the notion that much of what goes on has no human intervention whatsoever other than the best guess code that some one writes at the beginning. There will be no human being going through this stuff looking to see what they can use that is commercially exploitable. This stuff at best will exist in some huge archive that is probably searchable and at best may end up on some local newsletter that someone had to rush out. The odds are against any of it being used that will result in some large commercial windfall.

    People have begun to view their "work" with an overinflated sense of value like people who can't throw anything away because they think it may be useful some day or worth some money. Most people have neither the time, money, knowledge or skills to exploit anything which is why most of us work for wages.

    Success and failure however one defines them are much more serendipitous than we think or others would like us to think.

    Regarding photos and one's "creative work". Making money from photographs is a very tough road. First, cameras today have made it much easier to take good photographs as far as dealing with the technical issues. The aesthetic is another question of course but even then as a previous commentator said, the same photo has to be sold multiple times to make any money which belies the fact that is much money to be made since one can easily purchase a photo very cheap from a commercial archive. Look at any news site and see the Getty Images copyright that usually accompanies most news articles and usually shows some stock photo. All of these news organization could easily have someone take a photograph of say David Cameron and use it but it's not worth having somebody do it since it is so cheap just to purchase a stock photograph.

    Do you think someone is going to take your poem and turn it into a hit song downloaded 10 million times from a music service ? I doubt it. So what exactly is it that is so precious that one has posted it to the web?

    Sentimental value is one thing, commercial value another. In fact sentimental value is itself a commercial venture. It really explodes at Christmas time.

    Anyone who has anything of real commercial value has it posted on their own registered web site not some public sharing facility unless that facility is created specifically for commercial use and has in its terms and use protection of ownership by the poster.

    Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Idea to commercial value requires good execution and that is much harder which is why that is where the money is.

    I'm sure there will be exceptions to this rather general broadside but there will also be benefits in terms of access and use for the average person without wondering whether they are infringing on someone else. The question is, if a work is an orphan work, can it ever be owned ? We should not think orphan means that it can be adopted and so become one's legal attachment. It should mean everyone is so to speak its parent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Words on paper

      50 Shades of Grey was originally a piss-poor Twilight Fan-Fiction posted on a public website, it was of course, in this case, exploited (somehow) by the original author, but I guess the only reason it wasn't nicked by somebody else - (the names changed etc.) was it was so terrible nobody actually thought it was worth doing...

      I personally post snippets of my current writing WIPs on my blog and on my FB page to engage with my readers and to show them that there is actually progress being made and the new work will eventually be forthcoming.

      Just because I "make it public" doesn't mean I want or expect somebody to scoop it up and claim it and then reproduce it as their own work.

    2. Turtle

      Re: Words on paper

      "Sentimental value is one thing, commercial value another. "

      It should be obvious that any work stolen is going to be stolen because it does have value to someone. If it is stolen it is only because it has value to someone. That is to say, So this law will only really effect works with value - i.e. works that re going to be stolen. And those are the works that need protection. I don't know if I am making this sufficiently clear for you. That most photos on the internet do not fall into this category is really irrelevant and should not mean, as you think it should, that no works and their creators need or should have protection against theft.

      Incidentally, it's often impossible to know in advance what will have commercial value. Here's a hypothetical example: someone finds a picture of your daughter and puts a caption in it that says "Meet horny girls who want casual sex right now!" and uses it to advertise their website. There's some unexpected commercial value.

      "Making money from photographs is a very tough road."

      Especially when the entities that would normally pay for photographs can now just steal what they find on the web and claim that they are "orphan works".

      What you are evidently just a bit too dim to understand, is that this legislation is being pushed through in order to benefit the parties that want it enacted. Do you think that they're doing that because it's not going to benefit them financially? Do you think that the politicians and bureaucrats who favor it don't have clients who expect to benefit from it? How do you think that the world works, anyway?

      1. gnufrontier

        Re: Words on paper

        My reference to sentimental value had to do with the originator. Ever watch auditions for American idol ? There are many people who really think they can sing but you would never buy their tunes.

        As for my dimness, I suspect that all legislation is benefiting someone otherwise it wouldn't exist. Regarding a picture of my daughter with a horny sex caption, I doubt that the presence or absence of this act would have any effect on their behavior (and I do have a daughter). For all I know that has already been done but I don't plan on combing through all the porno sites on the web looking to see if someone used a picture of my daughter. One must have a sense of scale here. In fact, I think scale is one of the issues here. How does one deal with "big data"? The same thing happened after the printing press. New rules had to be figured out. No one ever got in trouble for copying scrolls - in fact people were happy if you wanted or were able to do it.

        What kind of money are we really talking about anyway ? The same kind of money received when a large corporation has to remit something back to its customers and so one gets a $ 1.50 credit or a $ 10.00 coupon.

        Any one who has something which is taken and ends up with a significant commercial impact will have plenty of lawyers offering their company to help them get their cut presuming it is legitimate. As for how the act works out in execution and what other regulations will be imposed - that will take time to find out.

        All case law is nothing but refining what started out as a simple rule when someone else was making the rules.

        Somethings people just don't get paid for. There actually was a person who designed the smiley face (ban the bomb movements in the 50's) and he didn't get paid. I have put up music and cartoons on my web site and someone may have stolen them and used them but I have yet to see any of my cartoons syndicated or hear my music played by somebody else. There are plenty of mechanisms for protecting one's work if one wishes to take advantage of them. I doubt that this act changes any of them - but you do have to do something to protect your work. Even a corporation has to make sure their brand name doesn't become a generic commodity, like Sanka for decaf coffee or Xerox for duplication or Kleenex for facial tissue otherwise they will lose their brand protection.

        This seems reasonable to me but then what is reasonable right ?

      2. PyLETS

        Re: Words on paper

        'someone finds a picture of your daughter and puts a caption in it that says "Meet horny girls who want casual sex right now!" and uses it to advertise their website. There's some unexpected commercial value.'

        As how certain insinuations above might be construed, that's defamation - copyright law was never intended for that purpose, other laws were and have a much more severe effect when used. Some lawyers take on that kind of work pro bono.

  43. Antartica

    Maybe just require that orphan works must have author?

    AFAIK, the legislation at the EU level on orphan works was sold as providing access to works whom copyright holder cannot be determined or contacted. Readers beware: I say copyright holder, not author. The problem is that the author is not the copyright holder in most of the culture-relevant works, that is, the ones that the legislation is trying to "get back" into publishing.

    But in no place I've read that it seeks to "legalize" stripped works.

    So, for the purpose of the legislation, they just have to:

    - Require that the orphan work has author (and require that any use of the orphan mentions the original author). In this the orphan would be distinct from public domain.

    - Additionally, require that the orphan work is older than XX years (perhaps 14 years, just as a homage to the original US copyright term), so as the original author has had some "automagical" protection.

    Anyway, legislators following an easy to understand policy like the one above? Nah...

  44. Handle1234

    Photos Offline

    I am closing my Flickr account tonight.

  45. philbo

    Since they're being so free with intellectual property..

    ..I'm surprised they didn't name this bill "IP Freely"

    (with apologies to Bart)

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Since they're being so free with intellectual property..


  46. Bronek Kozicki

    could this get worse?

    Imaginable scenario: I post nice family picture somewhere on the web, someone picks it and sends to BBC or other corporation which strips EXIF (if it wasn't stripped by 3rd party already) and claims ownership. Next the corporation finds my posted picture and sends me desist and cease letter, demanding removal of the work (and/or licensing fees) of which I am an author, for which they claimed ownership through action of a 3rd party.

    Could this possibly happen? Just curious.

    1. HumptyDumpty

      Re: could this get worse?

      Another reason to shoot RAW. If you've got the RAW file and the BBC only has the JPEG then it's pretty much safe to assume that their JPEG came from your RAW rather than your RAW coming from their JPEG. Having the RAW files might be one of the few ways of proving ownership.

    2. opaque

      Re: could this get worse?

      Well your original would have the EXIF data and you could prove creation of photo, maybe even other versions taken at the same time. Not to mention you could bring the kids out as evidence.

      More likely a company selling something in Korea uses the photo and you never know about it until a friend on holiday sees it.

      1. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: could this get worse?

        "Well your original would have the EXIF data and you could prove creation of photo"

        Trouble is, EXIF data is trivial to alter, it would prove nothing. Whats to stop anyone taking your photo and altering the EXIF data to make it look like they originally took the picture? Same with file creation dates or anything else that could verify the original creator. It doesnt matter how much metadata or stenography you apply to the image when its so easy to alter or remove it. How would you prove it wasnt theirs? or more to the point, would it be financially viable for you to do so?

        Back when I was creating small websites for people, I used to pinch other peoples images all the time. I used to change the EXIF data to the sites owner or just remove it altogether and change the file creation date to just before the site went live, then run the image through a converter a few times to kill any stenography.

        If anyone figured out they wernt my images (they didnt) I was just going to replace them with other pinched images using the same technique.

        This new legislation does nothing to stop the above technique, in fact it makes it easier to excuse.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: could this get worse?

      So what you're saying is, "people acting criminally can rob you".

      In that scenario, the corporation that stripped the EXIF "and claimed ownership" is acting fraudulently, and they know it, to the extent that those involved may well be looking at jail time.

      The new law doesn't legalise fraud, for all Orlowski's ranting.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: could this get worse?

        I wish it was that simple.

        1. people who claim ownership may be different people than those who strip EXIF. Also, since stripping EXIF might automated, they might not even know this is happening.

        2. if there is 3rd party who stripped EXIF and then submitted such work to corporation, no one in the corporation might even know.

        3. I do not want copyright to my pictures to hang on the presence of metadata; it's like presumption of guilt. I should not have to use the metadata to be able to prove the ownership

        Basically, the whole thing seems to be based on ridiculous assumption that "orphan work has no author thus requires no protection", while the fact is that orphan work most surely has an author, however he/she cannot be offered copyright protection since he/she is unknown.

        Totally agree on shooting RAWs, BTW.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: could this get worse?

      If you had previously registered your picture then you could prove it was yours.

      If sites like Instagram turn themselves into picture registries (which is the obvious path for them to take), then simply by uploading that site you have notarised proof that you uploaded it on a particular date.

      Of course, maybe *you* ripped off someone else's work, and replaced the tags when uploading to Instagram. Then I guess it would be up to the real owner to show they had registered it earlier.

  47. opaque

    Image matching

    Considering how easy it is to find where images came from via even Google Images and Tineye a lot of likely image theft will very easily prove it's not a diligent search. It's fighting that point that will be the issue.

    People cheating in photography competitions, big fashion houses stealing designs etc have all been proven using basic searching that a child could do. A lot of what is on tumblr for example can often be tracked down very easily with only a small amount of effort. It's making sure that people not doing that don't get away with it.

    And as a friend said if someone is stealing something off DeviantArt then it's very easy to prove it's yours

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if I stip the metadata from my MP3s...

    does that mean the music industry can't sue me?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    More like corporate communism.

  50. Dr.S

    As a copyright lawyer I don't see this legislation as being worth all this alarmism in any way. I certainly can't see any indications that the UK is violating its obligations vis à vis either the Berne Convention or the WTO treaties on intellectual property.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "As a copyright lawyer I don't see this legislation as being worth all this alarmism in any way."

      And you won't see it as long as you're working for Google.

      1. Dr.S

        Re: @Dr.S

        "... you're working for Google."

        How does pulling false statement of of thin air help you in any way?

        I'm certainly more wary of Google than most, especially from a EU competition-law perspective. Reading these comments however, I get the impression that too many fall into a herd-mentality and are starting to make up frightening stories rather than actually studying copyright and the realistic effects of this law.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      @ "Dr S"

      Can you be more honest in your representation of yourself? Calling yourself "a copyright lawyer" implies you practice law, rather than study it.

      You could start by providing your full name and credentials.

      Your personal opinion on whether the UK contravenes Berne is counter to other expert rather better-informed opinion, and perhaps reflects your agenda.

      1. Dr.S

        Re: @ "Dr S"

        Your last comments are disappointingly snide. I may not agree with your overly-simplified vision of intellectual property, but I always try to read your pieces with an open mind. You could do better to be a little more respectful.

        I'm a doctor of laws, teaching patent-, trademark, copyright- and design-law at a law school for more than 10 years now. I consult and am a part of the regional IPR association, where my colleagues and friends are both from academia and commercial law. We have discussed this issue and agreed that if we had a professional photographer client then any Google-like company that tried to use his or her work commercially would have near-impossible task proving that they did their due diligence; thus a nice little account.

        Contrary to what you may believe, I see the various forms of IP as fundamental to the whole of the knowledge economy and am not out to destroy it.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have the perfect solution..

    ...send cheques or postal orders payable to "You've been had", PO Box 69, for full details.

  52. The Hairy Photographer

    Thank you for this enlightening article. The more people who see it and act upon it the better. I hope you don't mind,but I have included part of it in an article on my own blog and have given full credit and links back to yourselves. If this is not acceptable please let me know.

    Thank you again.

    Chris Birchall

  53. Ben Norris
    Thumb Down

    a new unique way of funding the BBC

    afterall tv licences are getting a bit outdated now arn't they

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News like this makes me want to sell up and move to another planet...

    How will this affect other non-UK territories that do not enact similar legislation?

    "In practice, you'll have two stark choices to prevent being ripped off: remove your work from the internet entirely, or opt-out by registering it. And registration will be on a work-by-work basis."

    "There's value in works, and if anybody can exploit them except the person who creates them, then value is transferred to the exploiter," explains Ellis. "This is a massive value transfer out of the UK economy to US tech companies."

    "It's corporate capitalism," says Ellis. "Ideally you want to empower individuals to trade, and keep the proceeds of their trade. The UK has just lost that."

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Say I'm a photographer who works in advertising (I'm not, btw)

    And my company has paid £xxx to some celeb for their ugly mug to appear. My image gets robbed. The celeb's face is being used outside of what was agreed. Who does the celeb sue?

    1. Dr.S

      Re: Say I'm a photographer who works in advertising (I'm not, btw)

      The celeb has no copyright to their face, so just because the image is used outside of what was agreed the celeb has no grounds for a lawsuit. Your company (or you, depending in your employment contract) does however have grounds.

      But if the image is used to sell a product or in such a way as to constitute defamation, then there are various legal instruments the celeb can use.

      In both cases the target to be sued would be whoever publishes the image illicitly.

  56. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Pretty Horriffic

    Unusually I totally agree with Andrew. This piece of institutionally approved theft has enormous ramifications.

  57. Richard Neill

    Is this really a bad thing?

    It always seems to me that copyright-by-default is a bad idea - most of the time, we gain hugely by sharing and remixing culture. Also, remember that every time you forward an email, or use a google-image in your presentation, you are breaking copyright law. We simply cannot operate in a strictly copyright-maximalist manner without making 99.99% of the citizens into law-breakers. (For that matter, how many of the Reg's own icons are you sure you licensed properly?)

    If I could go back in time and tweak the first HTML spec, I'd clarify that "all content placed on the web is implicitly public domain, unless explicitly marked otherwise". After all, that's how most people think the web works, and actually how it does work anyway (because individuals can almost never afford to sue).

    It's not as if putting a copyright tag into a jpeg/tiff comment field is difficult.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is this really a bad thing?

      That's the problem - these images are marked otherwise.

      But certain organisations (the BBC) have been taking images - either sent in by viewers or copied form websites, stripping the EXIF data and then they become orphan works. Just like if I tore the cover form a book and claimed it was now mine because the author wasn't identifiable

  58. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    A licence to print money

    I did a diligent search on "who did the picture of the queen on a fiver" and it returned nothing.

    So I'm assuming the 5 pound note is an orphan work and will be doing my own copies of it.

  59. Sarev

    How about protecting metadata...?

    It should be your right to not have third parties strip your metadata out of your works. If I upload a photo onto Facebook, they shouldn't be permitted to strip out my EXIF data (at least by default).

    1. Dr.S

      Re: How about protecting metadata...?

      It is your right already. Removing such data is an infringement in itself, just as removing various forms of DRM is.

  60. markt1964

    What consititues a "diligent search"

    Because if the rules are are too vague, then this act could effectively spell the end of copyright in the U.K.

  61. apjanes

    Hang on....

    When we are dealing with music/video piracy, don't the government cry blue murder? When we are dealing with photo piracy, they say "go right ahead"! Why this dichotomy? With music/video piracy the corporations lose out, with photo piracy the corporations stand to benefit. Hmm... anyone want to guess who owns the government? Rule of the people my arse!

  62. saddington


    This is why I'm creating Pressgram [ ] - to free us from the shackles of commercial exploitation and give the power back to the individual artist.

    Love to share with anyone interested in hearing about it!

  63. bag o' spanners

    I save all of my RAW files. If I publicly post photos to social media sites, they're tagged. If someone wishes to remove my tag, and make *commercial* use of a photo, then I will gladly go to court for redress and damages.

    The cost of archiving the original RAW files is trifling. Once a few negligent/dishonest ad agencies have had their nuts dragged across a cheesegrater in court, the benefits of due diligence may well become apparent.

    This botched legislation is a piss poor attempt to distort "fair usage" into a legal right to steal copyright. The only way to fight such legislation is to publicly inflict some serious financial damage on a high profile IP abuser in corporate clothing.

    The copyright lawyers will be rubbing their hands in anticipation of some expensive lunches. Exemplary damages tend to concentrate minds. Ignorance/incompetence/negligence is not the best legal defence in civil proceedings.

    The likely result, after a few hefty hits on corporate and public sector wallets, will be some Cabinet Office "best practice" bumph, to prevent civil servants throwing taxpayers money to the wolves by doing stupid things with other people's IP.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, printable quality photos will continue to be used and credited by reputable agencies, because badly optimised Instagram phonepix look dated within a few minutes, especially on the web. If a client is paying top dollar for their campaign, they're not expecting a copyright shitstorm to erupt around their brand.

    The quality of photos on socmedia platforms is limited by b/w constraints. A 35meg RAW image, squished down to a 100-200kb jpeg is not going to be quite the same thing. So for anyone getting a rage on about "the man" dredging digital landfill for nefarious purposes, the more likely IP infringers are going to be the knockoff merchants who plague online sales sites like Ebay and Etsy. Takedown notices on Ebay seem to be taken quite seriously when original EXIF data is shown to exist. A phonecall and a supporting email, and woof!, culprit no longer has an account.

    My designer friends routinely search for copies of their work, using Tineye quite effectively to find copyrighted photos from original collection shoots. They also keep a list of knockoff merchants, which is available through the specialist boards where these things are a hot topic.

    Sensible search terms are useful on Google image searches, so the guff posted about the obscurity of the Vulture logo in the first few replies is a bit of a straw man. An image search for "the register logo" isn't rocket science. Trebles all round!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Registration will be free

    "what was your property by default will only remain yours if you take active steps, and absorb the costs"

    Sure, but the costs will be pretty much zero, because there's a huge opportunity for registry websites to spring up, and they'll be free to use. So the only cost is your time in uploading the materials, and having a notarised record of your creation is a useful thing to have anyway in case of future disputes.

    Eventually it will shake down to a few big registries, but they'll still be free. There are a bunch of business models which spring from having a huge repository of material and metadata.

    * They can act as your agent, actively flog your work and take a cut of your fee. (Not everyone will opt into this, but some will)

    * They can act as a shopfront; people can pay to have their material made more prominent

    * They can charge users a small fee for performing the "due diligence" search, and/or for being put in touch with the copyright owner

    * They can build on-line communities of artists and professionals, and flog advertising at them

    * etc

  65. Revs1

    Im making the most of it, after due dilligence I've got my first two claimed

  66. ti


    There is an e-petition to sign if you are against this law

    Please sign and share the link.

    1. Odile

      Re: e-petition

      I tried to sign this petition, only to find it's only open to British citizens or UK residents - which rather defeats the object, since photographers worldwide are potentially affected by this proposal. I was a UK resident for 35 years but am now back in France, my own country. Which brings me to the issue the British gov. seems to ignore: how are other countries going to react to this (assuming they are aware of it)? Surely the UK cannot suddenly impose a "law" to the rest of the world, even with the blessing of the US?

  67. Turbojerry

    Images are just data

    By doing this the government has said any data that is encoded as an image without an attribution can be used by anyone, how long before torrent clients automatically encode the data they send as a gif / TIFF / BMP etc?

  68. mtp

    Flickr check

    I just looked at the last photo I posted to Flickr. The EXIF data is intact and it clearly states 'Artist = Picasa'.

    Drat. So are my photos owned by Flickr, Google (I used picasa to crop the image), the world or just possibly by me?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greed wins generally finds it very easy to do idiocy that makes no sense without breaking a sweat. This is in a whole class of its own. As a photographer, it simply represents the most depressing, soul destroying news I've heard since I started in this business. Photography as a business has been on shaky ground for a decade as it is, this is the final nail in the coffin for anyone who doesn't make their money entirely from first use of commissioned work. Those who came up with this have pretty much given core the of UKs creative business away to anyone who fancies nicking it. Graphic artists, illustrators, designers will all see incomes dissolve.

    The fact that no other country is contemplating anything even close to this should tell us how deeply corrupt the corporate lackeys in government actually are, and how utterly devoid of intelligent leadership. Time to move across the channel to somewhere that respects the right to control and set a price for your own work.

    1. Senior Ugli

      Re: Greed wins

      agree exactly, but what can we small guys do about it apart from moan and sign a measly e-petition.

      The government, doing the opposite of what people want as usual. Legal Criminals

  70. This post has been deleted by its author

  71. Gus4

    Creative Ice Age

    Creative Ice Age

    This is just what this country doesn't need, let's for just one moment forget the corporate capitalism and the fact that this is just theft and think about what will happen if this is really going through. What will happen to Schools colledges and universities. Is it possible the established and international known Creative practitioners that upload images of their work will be harder and harder to find. do not all student use the Internet to research for their studies and it's a place where inspiration is found, it's a place where innovation opens doors to new ideas and possibilities.

    If these established creatives lockdown their work because of financial constraints and fear of theft where will our new creative talent find their inspiration does this not move the nations creative talent forward. We are heading for a creative "ICE AGE". A place where creativity and innovation will slowdown to such and extent we will see the growth of our economy suffer. The UK's is seen as world leaders in creative education and economy and if this goes through it will be hit hard and it will impact on all other sectors that rely on creative innovation to develop now products and services.

    This must be stopped not just for the Creative individuals that create the work and rely on their IPR to make them a living but also for future creatives and innovators that keep this country great.

    Surely this must be stopped!!!

  72. IP_Murray

    The Actual Position

    I've not read all the posts and comments but the trend is that a misinterpretation has occurred and the original article is inaccurate as to the impact on copyright owners.

    For clarity please read

    I work with many photographers seeking to protect their rights and do so on a contingency basis (% of damages recovered). If you want to enforce your rights there are solicitors out there, like me, who are capable of fighting your corner on a cost effective basis. Don't lose hope!

  73. fingertrouble

    Oh dear, sky is falling, news at 11!

    Sigh. As a photographer, designer and social media person this article is rather intentionally overblown and panic-stricken - sorry I need a little more proof that the sky will indeed fall, and it is indeed the end of the world...happens again and again, photographers hate change, basically...and react like this.

    The need for orphan works legislation is there, there are many images from prior decades that have been abandoned, check out all of those 'found image' blogs for instance - but legally you could be sued for publishing some found image you got at a jumble sale, or using an old GIF or image with no identifying info. For those who panic about stuff like this, what would you suggest otherwise? With no 'public domain' and Creative Commons being a new phenomenon, using any imagery in design, collage etc. becomes a fraught process unless you can track down the original photographer...which is costly and quite often fruitless. I'm sure some are like 'don't do it' and 'it sucks to be you' in that situation, but it does stop creativity and new markets (which would benefit everyone).

    I don't see how this maps onto new media though. If you have a media presence out there with photos, then tag them, watermark them if you must, but you can prove your images are out there with a name, and will have legal recourse and the right to stop any infringing work (DMCA anyone?). If you don't tag or watermark your images then I have little sympathy, but it's not like these services are charging you to keep the photos up there with tags & name intact, and even if services change if you can prove a simple Google Search by Image finds you, or TinEye or whatever then I don't see how anyone will be able to claim they 'couldn't find you'.

    If they do, then that's their look-out because commercial companies would usually like to avoid the hassle and bad press of stealing images. There have been a few cases where some unscrupulous companies have done that, but I have news for you: they did that before this Act came in, and will probably do it again. The majority if they can clear the images will because they don't want that kind of bad press.

    So yeah, storm in a teacup I think, until we have a bit more info about how this new law is going to be used. But panicky articles trying to up siteviews by making out all social media images are going to belong to some corporation and not you is really unhelpful.

  74. Robert_Malcolm

    Are you in a tizz over the ERR Bill?

    Oh, the furore. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act has photographers up in arms after pundits released broad-brush statements to the effect that ‘The government have made a law that removes my copyright control from my photographs’.

    UK photographers have responded angrily, saying (in a variety of ways) that the new Act means that anyone anywhere can strip the data from a photograph that they want to use, declare it an ‘orphaned work’ (one for which the originator cannot be found) and use it as they wish without any payment. So once again the government are vilified in the electronic press and on forums because someone took what someone else said as correct.

    This vitriol is fairly typical of our reactionary times and, as is so often the case, based on opinions that are not quite correct because the ‘respected authors’ have reacted to the headline without examining the content.

    ERR has to comply with the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, in which there are already certain provisions for the use of images and textual extracts without payment to the originator or author or, as appropriate, any estate. UK law already complies with the Berne Convention.

    Amongst other things, the Act repeals S52 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, which limited a design’s copyright period to ‘the life of the originator plus 25 years’ – a measure taken despite international law maintaining the copyright for 70 years after the originator’s death. The UK will fall into line with the international community on design, as it already does with other creative works – such as photographs.

    Ranting about ‘diligent search’ quality – in that people wanting to use an image will just say that they conducted a diligent search – is such a waste of time and effort. The search is to be conducted under an existing commercial process, approved by government, following application (and payment, of course) from an intending user. Part of the payment will, no doubt, cover the administrative cost of the search with the remainder going into a Royalties nest-egg in case the originator suddenly springs up to claim misuse. The original suggestion that the forthcoming 'Use Authorising' department should conduct searches has been blocked on two grounds.

    1.HMG lacks the expertise necessary to do the job efficiently.

    2.HMG does not wish to be seen as competing with existing commercial agencies.

    Obviously this will all reduce the time and money spent on litigation for copyright breach which, while not mentioned in the committee’s impact assessment, has to be a consideration because of the corresponding reduction of the burden on the Court Service.

    The main purpose of this part of the bill is to enable and encourage archives and museums to monetise orphaned works that gather dust in dark corners of storage areas.

    I’ve yet to see anyone complaining about the part of the Act that removes the onus on retailers to inform TV Licensing of any sales or rentals of television sets (Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967 (as amended)) because it has become an onerous burden and in part, because of international sales, unenforceable.

    Footnote: If you place your photograph on the web and someone wants to use it without paying you, they will no matter how well you protect it - by the simple method of 'Print Screen' which carries no data whatsoever. Stripping out doesn't occur, so you accuse the unscrupulous freeloaders of being sufficiently technically adept to be able to remove EXIF and other data without understanding the simplest way of stealing a photograph and anonymising it. No wonder you're in a tizz.

  75. Rowena Cherry

    Copyright grab

    Someone must have pointed this out, but surely this will destroy the ability of male cover models to make a living.

  76. Dr.S

    Some clarifications on the 'diligent search' requirement ...

    ... and other useful links for those who are still curious about this subject.

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