back to article The UK's copyright landgrab: The FAQ

The UK has passed legislation to permit the mass use of copyright-protected material without the owner's permission. This applies to any copyrighted work - not just images - where identifying information is missing. The specifics aren't yet known - they'll come later in the year, in the form of secondary legislation called a " …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    two points i disagree on...

    That Copyright is time limited. It is effectively *not* time limited due to the constant extensions being put on it.

    Although Bastard Inc could set up their own registry, someone else less of an asshole could also set up one, and a Diligent search would have to include them both.

    Saying that, I feel the government should be pushing back on things like copyright extensions, (Should be 20+20 max), and properly define Fair use. This does seem more than a little silly. At most it should be a specific exclusion for Archival purposes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: two points i disagree on...

      > That Copyright is time limited. It is effectively *not* time limited due to the constant extensions being put on it.

      Indeed, the length of copyright means that stuff on the internet might be there, but you can't use it. In other words, it may as well not be there in terms of "common culture." How many computer formats do you think will still be around in the author+70 years time-frame? All the digital stuff will be unreadable.

      So it comes back to just a trade issue - can I make money out of it? Mostly, the case is, if you don't want it to be public, don't make it public - or at least deface it so people who can make money out of it, will be willing to pay to get the real thing. Perhaps we need to get away from the idea that I can throw something out into a public place and not have someone else pick it up.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: two points i disagree on...

        >or at least deface it so people who can make money out of it

        Can anyone fish out a link to that marvellous story some years back about the Tory MP's constituency website... it used a picture of a pound coin that not only had been nicked from somebody else's website, but was actually linked to it. When the owner of the image noticed, he took it into Photoshop and 'scratched' a penis onto it, and then updated his site. This of course resulted in the Tory MP's website featuring a rudely defaced coin!

    2. MrXavia

      Re: two points i disagree on...

      I'm torn when it comes to copyright,

      on one hand, shortish copyrights means works of art & litriture come into the public domain at some point,

      but conversely, that also means pictures I post online, will at some point become free for anyone to use,

      How do you balance copyright with privacy?

      As what else protects my own pictures but copyright?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: two points i disagree on...

        "How do you balance copyright with privacy?"

        Personally, I think copyright should be life or 14 years, whichever is longer. This allows everyone to have control of their own work while they live and also gives children a period to exploit their parents' work should the parent die soon after creating something.

        The problem is defining "life" in a world where corporations are regarded as legal persons. Of course, we can solve that by saying that copyright is something that only a living human, or group of humans, can have.

        Not going to happen.

        1. Erwin Hofmann

          Re: two points i disagree on...

          ... I kinda like where this is going. I am, forever, an advocate of the principle that everything publicly accessible on the web should be free to be used ... except, of course, for commercial use. This should relieve non commercial use from any danger of litigation, which would make life, in the web, more comfortable. Content provider should cater for this by providing quality restricted or watermarked content. Totally unacceptable though is any commercial use without the creators approval and the term "diligent searches being carried out", to allow surpass this obligation, is just to fuzzy to be fairly workable (nowadays it's just too easy to strip copyright info's from any digital work). Simply put, if you can't get a creators approval you can't use it commercially. This is a crazy, conflict creating, legislation and I must wonder which mind set creates something outlandish like this. Scary.

          1. Fibbles

            Re: two points i disagree on...

            " I am, forever, an advocate of the principle that everything publicly accessible on the web should be free to be used ... except, of course, for commercial use."

            Sometimes value is defined by exclusivity. Imagine a situation where I sell images for commercial use. In order to sell them in the first place I need a shop-front somewhere online that offers previews of these images. Now, why would any business want to licence the rights to the actual actual image if every Tom, Dick and Harry has used the preview image as a modern equivalent of clip-art?

            1. Rampant Spaniel

              Re: two points i disagree on...

              And what happens when a fine art portrait gets used to endorse a product or political party the model doesn't agree with. This already happens, even with family shots. That couple last year whose shot ended up in an advert for some homophobic republican scum. IP law exists for good reason, yes there could be tweaks made in some areas, like the old model designs mentioned, but the people pushing for this just want to cut their costs and not be hampered by pesky laws that stop them stealing.

        2. teebie

          Re: two points i disagree on...

          Would that encourage fans to murder authors so they can get their Twilight fanfic published? Should we discourage that?

        3. Andy J

          Re: two points i disagree on...

          In the UK where a company owns the copyright in a work, the term of the copyright is still based on the lifetime of the employee who created it, so the problem you raised in your third paragraph would still be resolved.

          In the US, so-called work-for-hire provisions mean that the employer is also the owner of the copyright in a work made by an employee, and currently the term is a fixed one, namely 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation, whichever is the shorter. This again would be amenable to your suggestion.

      2. Ronny Cook

        Re: two points i disagree on...

        "How do you balance copyright with privacy? As what else protects my own pictures but copyright?"

        You can always choose NOT to put them online. Are you complaining that your privacy is not being respected with respect to a picture that you have made available for the world to see?

        That said, I agree that copyright is basically a good thing - people should be rewarded for their efforts. The while life + 70 years thing is taking it beyond a joke however - a work created by a person will typically not be out of copyright until their grandchildren are in the grave.

  2. Mystic Megabyte

    The result is that..

    I will not be sending any more of my pictures to the BBC's photo competitions.

    I always add copyright information to the metadata, now I will have to paste a big QR code on any image that I publish.

    Probably have to use steganography as well, otherwise someone will just paste their logo over mine.

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: The result is that..

      I always add copyright information to the metadata, now I will have to paste a big QR code on any image that I publish.

      AFAIK the Beeb are one of the naughties who have been routinely scrubbing the meta-data whenever you submit something.

    2. BillG

      Re: The result is that..

      Screw You, Getty Images.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The result is that..

      I have to say that if I were ever on a jury then I'd *assume* that any party who routinely scrubbed the copyright out of metadata was doing so with malicious intent. For a major media organisation to do so (with all their legal advice) is scandalous.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better than putting tax up to increase revenue I suppose.

  4. hplasm
    Thumb Up

    Excellent summary.

    Please keep us up to date!

    1. MrT

      Re: Excellent summary.

      Definitely - and given that Andrew's earlier article (coining the name "Instagram Act") has been referenced/quoted by many news sites, hopefully this one will be equally influential.

  5. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Two sides to the orphan issue?


    I make model boats as a hobby.

    At the moment I am running a project intended to 'save' as many of the old 1930s-1960s model boat kit plans. These kits were typically created by small 'garage' companies post WW2, and went out of business as the owner died. The inheritors of the estate were typically uninterested in continuing the business - any equipment would have been sold and no archives maintained. So all data on the kits and plans would have been withdrawn from sale and lost.

    Fragments of these kits exist in attics around the country - now usually dumped in a house clearance after a death. I am producing a web repository for such information where it can be cleaned up, cataloged and made freely available to other modellers. Copyright issues are obviously considered - for instance, where a larger modeling company bought up all assets they are assumed to have the IP and asked for permission to publish. But in many cases the relatives of the original creator (those I can manage to find) knew nothing about any IP that they may have inherited, and, of course, had no documentation from their grandparents of 70 years ago of any kind.

    I still contact and inform them when I can, following the proposed EU Orphan procedure. They would be hard for a professional company to find - even harder for an amateur. When found, you might have the interesting issue of who, amongst all the surviving relatives, actually owns any of this IP - if it is ignored I suppose it is split equally between ALL the inheritees? Which would make saving it an impossible task if I had to find all branches of the family. Instead, if I treat it as an orphan, I can process it without being criminalised.

    I receive no money from this - it is all done to try to record and preserve data which is in danger of being completely lost. The data is made freely available to everyone as part of the common heritage of humanity. This is the issue which the 'orphan' clause in the Copyright legislation is trying to address.

    There may well be things wrong with the current proposals, and opportunities for big companies to ignore the rights of small copyright holders. But I think that the item should have mentioned the real issue that caused the proposal in the first place - not so much the existence of unattributed information in libraries, but the impossibility of collecting and saving unattributed historical information from the world if ALL data must be owned by somebody, and permission obtained before it is processed.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

      Good point.

      This is the best explanation of how it's done today, with orphan works being made available to us in many forms:


      And many good ideas for making digital copies of orphans abound, most OW schemes make use of narrow exceptions.

      What the issue is here the proposal is so broad and clumsy (it was written by activists who don't really understand copyright, they're quite new to it, and not lawyers) it threatens primary licensing. The UK IPO had every opportunity to narrow the wording of OW/ECL so there would be no ambiguity and no threat to primary licensing at all. They declined the opportunities.

      1. johnrwalker

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?


        "The UK IPO had every opportunity to narrow the wording of OW/ECL so there would be no ambiguity and no threat to primary licensing at all. They declined the opportunities."

        Fairly recently we, in Australia, had a visiting emissary from the UKs mandated official IP sector. This emissary was billed on arrival as a outstanding "Champion"- however the champion spectacularly and quickly failed, in fact the champion turned out to be pretty average.

        A major reason for this failure was ; this emissary genuinely had no idea about Copyright as a exclusive individual right of control of usage. In fact this emissary reacted with ill-disciplined, uncomprehending, anger to the very idea of a individual right-holders right to "say no" to compulsory collective management . The tantrums did not go down well, down under.

        From our perspective a covert (or overt) ignorant hostility to primary rights seems not untypical of the UKs mandated official IP sector.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

      The music industry argues that a composer often does not get recognition until late in their life. The argument is that their heirs should benefit from such belated earnings after the creator's death.

      Establishing the cut-off at 70 years after death confers that benefit well beyond any surviving spouse's lifetime. Potentially it benefits several future generations. The spirit of the law should really be to give income, or control, to a surviving spouse or any children up to say age 21.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

        "The spirit of the law should really be to give income, or control, to a surviving spouse or any children up to say age 21."

        It can also be argued that many creative people who work for an employer do not have similar protection for dependants. When they die then the income stops - unless they have been prudent enough to pay part of their earnings into pension/insurance schemes to provide something for their dependants.

      2. tony2heads

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

        Let the children compose their own music

        Sorry to appear harsh, but I expect my children to work for a living when I am gone; why are composers' kids different?

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge


          I think the standard rejoinder is that you also expect to be able to hand over any left-over cash reserves or property to your kids when you die, rather than have the taxman impose 100% death duties or have some random businessman break into your house and walk off with it.

          1. Radbruch1929

            Re: @tony2heads

            @Ken Hagan: I agree with your example but please explain why copyright needs longer protection than patents: It takes billions to invent new pharmaceuticals. Yet they are protected by patents for 30 years at most, 10 of which are spent to gain the necessary permits. The argument here is to encourage further development and that the inventors stood on the shoulders of giants.

            Creators of copyrighted works also stand on the shoulders of giants as they are to be seen in the cultural context around them. And having them lose their rights after 20 years as everybody else (only pharma patents sometimes can be expanded to 30 years, it is otherwise 20 years of protection) would encourage them to continue working.

            So again: Why do these arguments only work against the technical inventor but not against the artist? If 20 years are enough for technical innovations and after that, we need the rights to expire in order to foster innovation, there is little reason to have 70 years post mortem auctoris for works of art.

            1. bobbles31

              Re: @tony2heads

              I guess it's because the patent covers an artefact that you actually have to produce yourself, whereas copyright covers the artefact itself.

              A counter analogy would be, why should property copyright have limited duration when my home ownership is never ending.

              The home I leave to my children doesn't revert to public ownership after 70 years so why should that photo, that I spent a lifetime training and perfecting my craft such that I was able to capture it?

              1. Radbruch1929

                Re: @tony2heads

                @bobbles31: Allow me to politely disagree. IMHO, a patent protects a technical idea, expressed in the patent claims and regardless of an actual product. A copyright in the European tradition is a bundle of rights that protects a specific oeuvre *and* in a limited way the idea behind the oeuvre. In literature, the protection extends to both the written text and the plot of the story so that you can not simply rename the protagonist and claim a new story.

                So - technical and artistic IP rights are basically comparable and the idea behind the limited duration of technical IP applies very much to artistic IP as well. But they are treated differently and artistic IP is treated much more favorably than technical IP: it lasts longer and its protection is broader (at least in Europe). It is a requirement under patent law for a patent infringement that the infringement has to be a commercial one. Copyright can be violated by anyone.

                So, the question is still open: Why discriminate against the technical inventor?

                With regard to your house analogy: IMHO, both physical and intellectual property are legal constructs so I agree with your analogy to that extend. The difference is how much of the costs for the creation you carried yourself actually. With a house, you probably paid its market value including all building costs. With IP, you did not compensate all those before you who worked in the field and created the public domain. Your photo relies very much on other peoples work who invented photography and the artistic elements of the design of a good photograph and you did not pay them. Therefore society claims back your contribution after having rewarded you with a period of exclusivity.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

          "Let the children compose their own music

          Sorry to appear harsh, but I expect my children to work for a living when I am gone; why are composers' kids different?"

          I don't think this is particular to composers. There seem to be a lot of people who want to leave all their worldly assets to their descendents upon their death. They don't appreciate the idea that some of those assets might just disappear when they die. This just sounds like a small part of a much larger issue.

          There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the people that have to work for a living and those who hold capitol as a means of making money.

          I expect that my children will have to work to provide for themselves before I die. I think it would be odd if they were just killing time until I kicked off and they could inherit a windfall, large or small. But I suspect I would have a different view if I only ever made money by loaning my capitol to someone else. When I die, I can't work anymore, so I don't have any further value, but my capitol would. Furthermore, if I'd grown up living off the money that my father or grandfather got from holding capitol, then I would probably want to be able to use that to provide for my children even after I'm gone. After all, that's how they've survived up until now; asking them to find a new way to put food on the table at 60 seems a little cruel.

          1. Gazman
            Thumb Down

            Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

            1) It's "capital", not "capitol".

            2) You are assuming that people who work and those who hold capital are two distinct groups - even when Karl Marx was alive, this wasn't true and it certainly isn't today.

      3. Tom 35

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

        Copyright is not enough for some people, they use trademark as a forever copyright. For an example see Ann of Green Gables.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

      > I am producing a web repository for such information where it can be cleaned up, cataloged and made freely available to other modellers.

      Ooh. Got a link?

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

        It's running in beta test at the moment, but I really don't want the entire collection of Vultures descending on it at the moment! And it's only got half-a dozen plans in at present.

        An earlier site I did specialises in the Keil Kraft EeZeBilt range of starter models - that's at:

        KK EeZeBilt junior boats

        Contact me at the email given there if you want further info. You will see that copyright permission has been granted by AMERANG, who currently hold rights to the old KK name.

        The new site will be for all vintage model boat kits. There is a similar one for model aircraft which is not run by me and is in a more advanced state, with about 4000 plans - that will give you a flavour of what is being done, and that can be found below:

        Outer Zone - model Vintage Aircraft plans

        All these sites are a lot of work to keep going, with no reward. The 'orphan' feature allows people to do this without being criminalised. If it were to be withdrawn, we would have to stop, and these plans would become unavailable. Any plans out there that we might have saved would become completely lost.

        Linux because I don't want to have to pay a microsoft tax on top of everything else...

    4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

      ...7 thumbs up & 1 thumbs down...

      Someone who fell in the boating pond when they were little?

      1. mike2R

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

        Probably someone who has already had their livelihood ruined once by small model boats, AND IS NOT GOING TO LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN!

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

          ...or perhaps they once had an unfortunate experience in the bath with a toy submarine....

    5. PHPonSnails

      Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

      Excellent point, very well put.

    6. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

      I loved to build plans and boats as a kid. I think I still have plans at my summer cottage that I could mail you.

      I hope your "contact me" works, your hotmail will be old soon. I wonder if there are any Swedes around here who remember a company named Wenzel or something. They had a very fine catalog with they products and I bought quite a few. Many years ago I tried to bye something similar for my kid, only dull plastic stuff around.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

        ...I loved to build plans and boats as a kid. I think I still have plans at my summer cottage that I could mail you.

        I hope your "contact me" works, your hotmail will be old soon....

        Well it seems to work - but I have had no mail from you so far today. If you have problems you could ask The Register to forward mail to me at my sign-on address here, and reference this message to indicate my agreement...


        1. Lars Silver badge

          Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

          Dodgy Geezer, It will take some time before I get to that summer cottage, but I will then look at what I have in the attic and return. Regards Lars

          1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

            Re: Two sides to the orphan issue?

            No problems - we're in this for the long haul. Interestingly, one of the biggest issues with operating the proposed orphan copyright process is that of language. At the moment I'm having to make myself understood to the remains of a small toy company in Czech - Swedish would be yet another tongue to translate my request emails into.

            I wish people still used Latin as an international language.... :)

  6. Richard Gadsden

    Could metadata stripping be defined as a copyright infringement?

    Thus hosting a photo with no metadata is copyright infringement, and therefore the whole of Facebook, Flickr, etc. are copyright infringements...

    1. GregT

      Re: Could metadata stripping be defined as a copyright infringement?

      @ Richard Gadsden

      I believe that your comment and the original article are wrong in respect of Flickr stripping meta-data. As a long time use of Flickr I can confirm that Flickr does NOT strip meta-data but gives users the option to keep the meta-data for their photos hidden. I can't think of a good reason for hiding the meta-data unless photo doesn't actually belong to you, but there might be one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could metadata stripping be defined as a copyright infringement?

        " I can't think of a good reason for hiding the meta-data unless photo doesn't actually belong to you, but there might be one."

        Flickr users are often anonymous but contactable. It would be self-defeating if their pictures revealed their identity to everyone. Why do people stay anonymous? Because the web is a jungle and you never know who might be unreasonably upset by something you display. An online account can be reluctantly discarded if the postings/emails get too abusive. A real identity has rather more permanent attributes that can be abused.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could metadata stripping be defined as a copyright infringement?

        You won't find metadata on my images in Flicker as I don't want the chav scum following me home to steal 10K of camera kit. In same way you won't find the start and end points of my bike rides on Strava either.

  7. Miek

    'and those "Shazams for images" don't yet exist. ' -- Google Goggles exists and has helped me find the title/artist of many an image and painting. I guess you have an iPhone.

    1. Crisp


      You're welcome.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TinEye

        Wondered why this one didn't get mentioned in the article, at least as an example. And again, I refer you to Maddox.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Live concerts

    As things currently stand most UK live music concerts indicate that no photography or audio recording is allowed. Publishing such an authorised copy is a breach of copyright. You can't even licence it if the copyright owner refuses to agree a fee.

    It gets further complicated by recent(?) changes whereby many people are automatically allocated interests in the performance's copyright eg composers, musicians, singers etc. Apparently this has made the commissioning of a performance for an amateur (third party) published recording more complicated.

    The article's analysis suggests that

    a) no one can object to their registered work being licensed at a fee set by a central body - even if they disapprove of the advert/political use it will promote.

    b) a bootlegger can claim copyright to an unauthorised recording/photograph - and publish it. A digital search will always show no official original as they will be unregistered by the performers. Even an official recording of the same event will have a different audio/digital signature when compared to contemporary bootleg ones. What rights have the performers to effect a "take down"?

    Are the above correct assumptions?

    1. zooooooom

      Re: Live concerts

      No - not as I read it. It only applies to orphaned work, and no one can 'claim copyright' to an orphaned work.

      "A digital search will always show no official original as they will be unregistered by the performers"

      Original A -> transcoded version B -> derived work C

      The author of C searches for author of B from which their work is derived.

      The author of B searches for author of A from which their work is derived.

      If B was in copyright violation of A, then C is also in copyright violation of A. If B is an orphan, then C must presumably have registered their use of that orphan. If A finds out later, A is compensated. What is unclear is whether A can force C to be withdrawn from the market (or wherever it is)

      I think.

    2. Alexis Vallance

      Re: Live concerts

      "a) no one can object to their registered work being licensed at a fee set by a central body - even if they disapprove of the advert/political use it will promote."

      Copyright still belongs to the original owner though. This doesn't alter.

      b) a bootlegger can claim copyright to an unauthorised recording/photograph - and publish it. A digital search will always show no official original as they will be unregistered by the performers. Even an official recording of the same event will have a different audio/digital signature when compared to contemporary bootleg ones. What rights have the performers to effect a "take down"?

      By claiming copyright he would have to demonstrate due diligence in attempting to locate the original recording or photo.

      If you make a copy, or near copy, of someone else's recording, you will still have breached copyright. The only exception would be if the original owner could not be located and you could demonstrate due diligence in your efforts. I suspect this would only apply to very old recordings, not a rip of a JLS performance you've made.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Live concerts

        "If you make a copy, or near copy, of someone else's recording, you will still have breached copyright."

        The supposition was that a bootleg recording of a live concert is effectively an original work. Even a registered official recording of the same event will not have the same digital signature.

        The original El Reg article a couple of days ago was postulating that if a diligent search didn't find a registered owner then it was an "orphan". It then suggested that there was apparently nothing to stop someone else registering it as their own copyright.

        There are many live concerts in the UK which rely on current UK copyright law to prevent bootleg recordings appearing which may not do justice to their performances. These are not necessarily big names. They may be unable to prove, by sound alone, that something like an advert or a film is using material from one of their live performances - deemed an "orphan" or registered by a bootlegger.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Live concerts

        "Copyright still belongs to the original owner though. This doesn't alter."

        Copyright implies that you can choose who can use it for what purpose and at what price. It appears this new law removes both those sanctions by the owner if it is registered with a licensing body. If its judged an orphan work which then their belated redress is merely the standard fee charged by the body.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I smell a version of Thatchers views on the Data Protection Act.

    Get this bo**ocks in and it will over ride the EU directive, which seems quite sensible relative to this.

    It's sneaky, underhand and undemocratic.

    Putting the details in a Statutory Instrument is very evocative of the Dark Lords way of doing "business."

    I suspect it will take many years to purge the IPO of this New Labor nonsense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I smell a version of Thatchers views on the Data Protection Act.

      You can't 'override' an EU directive without expecting the consequences.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I smell a version of Thatchers views on the Data Protection Act.

        "You can't 'override' an EU directive without expecting the consequences." .....that's right, it'll be a one off fine reflecting 1% annual turnover, and then you can carry on doing whatever you like. Something similar happend with a software company recently.

  10. Turtle

    Usng a work as ad-bait is commcercial use.

    "the EU has ratified an Orphan Works Directive which strictly outlawed commercial use."

    If "commercial use" does not include putting a work of any sort on a webpage to serve as ad-bait, that's a significant oversight.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. GregT

      Re: rights/privileges again

      The purpose of IP Rights (including copyright) is surely to encourage the sharing of creative works (be they photographs, art works, inventions, whatever) and the state granted protection privileges are a consideration for that. So to "maximise the public good" needs to take account of the very real possibility that people simply won't share stuff if they believe it's going to get ripped off.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: rights/privileges again

        "The purpose of IP Rights (including copyright) is surely to encourage the sharing of creative works"

        The exclusivity is there to encourage trade in something we value highly as a society. It's the trade, aka a healthy market, that provides the incentive for the dissemination. It encourages investment in the business of disseminating the stuff.

        Is a 1:1 exchange of an image "sharing" or is it "trade"?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. HelenaHandcart

      Re: rights/privileges again

      "Copyrights .... are a restriction of the public's natural right to make copies"

      There is no "natural right to make copies". There is, however, a natural right to ownership of the work you have created.

  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Opening up the floodgates ....

    IP is just one of several areas (energy policy is another) that have become hotbeds of activism.

    And astute hacktivism, Andrew, which is a whole new ball game which the establishment and status quo position stake-holders have no hope in defeating?

    And shared as a question there for others to disagree with?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Opening up the floodgates ....

      "And astute hacktivism, Andrew, which is a whole new ball game which the establishment and status quo position stake-holders have no hope in defeating?"

      Like UKIP?

      1. El Presidente
        Thumb Up

        Re: Opening up the floodgates ....

        @ Like UKIP?


  13. ukgnome

    Bastard Ltd

    Does anyone fancy crowd funding this business and setting up a diligent search company?

    I foresee a lot of money in this venture

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

    I've heard this argument used many times but I've never seen any evidence in favour, only grand assertions.

    Google 'copyright as an enabler' and you get an opinion from the Publishers Association and a paper by Sobel in favour of DRM

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

      Rather than down voting why not provide some evidence for or against ?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

      I can only speak for my profession, not others. If I want to produce a series of pictures, excluding the outlay for equipment (purchase \ rental \ wear and tear, normally up to 40k a year) I have to stump up transport, insurance, accomodation costs and also keep my family fed and house while I am gone. So for me to go and do a shoot on say North Americas national parks, I might have to set aside 25-30k plus the equipment \ film etc. Now I can recoup that through print sales, stock sales and maybe a book. Now what incentive do I have to risk that outlay if someone can duplicate my work without permission or payment, harming my ability to recoup my costs let alone make a wage out of it.

      Now you might say theres no real value in the work because 'anyone' can take the shots (assuming they have years of training and experience, a shedload of gear and enough patience), they why the need to copy if they can do their own.

      I'm sure there are studies that show IP rights improve economies, and studies that show it harms them. Put 4 researchers in a room, ask for an opinion and get 12. All I can do is state how I would react, and making stealing my work easier means I'd not take the risk and do more event shooting (what I normally do anyway since that market turned crap). It's sodding ridiculous how many people think it's appropriate to take their cameras out in a gallery and shoot their own copy of a shot. Given how decent consumer cameras can be these days a shot like that of a 60x40 could easily be printed somewhere aroun 13x19 and go on someones wall. They put the shot on flickr and all of a sudden its orphaned and for sale elsewhere and theres sod all I can do.

      1. Al Jones

        Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

        That sounds like an argument in favour of creating a Copyright Registry. Proactively register the works that you want full commercial control over, otherwise you're making the same case that a candle maker arguing against widespread electrification would have made.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

          That is true and works for that example (so some degree, I will cover a little later). However, copyright also protects the privacy of images and control over person likeness. Consider the use of images from a family shoot, escape via FB and is used without permission or a release. Publishing images to a registry would make them public, every so often I have to sign additional contracts to keep images private (i.e. no use in my own marketing etc), both companies and individuals have privacy concerns.

          Also there is a significant issue with volume. Creating a drug might take years, filing for protection of that is virtually inconsequential in time and money compared to the time taken to create it. As a photographer it's far from unusual to shoot hundreds of sale-able images a day (for event shoots anyway). This is why copyright is imbued at the point of creation and there is a system for registering for additional protection (the right to sue for punitive damages, not just damages). If I had to register every single image, it would take a lot of time and cost a lot of money, for something that just isn't necessary. The system right now works and is very simple, if you do not have permission you cannot use it. It really is that simple. no puppies have drowned because somebody couldn't use an image they didn't know the owner of. The motivation to dismiss the current system is based solely on the potential to save and make money, not any grand plan to liberate vault loads of world changing media. At the very least, if there are books or video or pictures out there that are old and untraceable, the going rate should be paid and placed into escrow in addition to a fee to an agency to attempt to track down the owners, bona vicantia style. The lack of that betrays the real underlying motivation, to steal other peoples work, relying on weaknesses (deliberate or unintentional) in media distribution on the internet. This simply isn't required, a system exists, improvements could be made but this is just another example of politicians being for sale to the highest bidder.

  15. Gogugogu

    International treaty vs national law

    If I am correct, an International treaty beats a national law.

    So, if I am not under UK jurisdiction but my work will be used in UK under the "unknown copyright holder" clause, there will be a a contradiction between the Berne Convention, which protects my rights, and this UK law.

    UK signed the Berne Convention.

    Does anyone know what will happen next ?

    1. Peladon

      Re: International treaty vs national law


      Ah, yes. The Berne convention. What will happen next? Maybe what happened already. And by already, I mean you might find US title 17 interesting. Or rather, Appendix K to US Title 17. Or rather, Section 2 of Appendix K of US Title 17. Or rather...

      Oh, bugger it (sorry - my inner dwarf (blush)). In essence, the US decided that, sure. They'd signed Berne. But, like, they were only _kidding_. Because under Title 17, Beren is declared 'not self-enabling under the laws and constitution of the United States'. Which roughly translates as 'if you have a copyright under Berne, but not a copyright from the US, yah, boo, sucks'. OK - not totally. The US recognises the _copyright_ - just not any right of that copyright holder to pursue statutory damages or attorney fees in any action. Which pretty much means that trying to pursue any case will probably bankrupt you.

      So being a signatory to Berne means - well, as much or as little as the signatory wants it to, it appears.

      From US Title 17, Appendix K:

      Sec. 2 · Declarations.

      The Congress makes the following declarations:

      (1) The Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed at Berne, Switzerland, on September 9, 1886, and all acts, protocols, and revisions thereto (hereafter in this Act referred to as the “Berne Convention”) are not self-executing under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

      (2) The obligations of the United States under the Berne Convention may be performed only pursuant to appropriate domestic law.

      (3) The amendments made by this Act, together with the law as it exists on the date of the enactment of this Act, satisfy the obligations of the United States in adhering to the Berne Convention and no further rights or interests shall be recognized or created for that purpose.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: International treaty vs national law

      'If I am correct, an International treaty beats a national law.'

      Treaties are enacted by Acts of Parliament. Under what passes for our constitution it is generally held that no Parliament can bind its successors, so a second Act could be passed to revoke the treaty. There's some disagreement over whether certain acts are 'entrenched' and cannot be simply overturned - the European Communities Act being the most commonly mentioned.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: International treaty vs national law

        "Under what passes for our constitution it is generally held that no Parliament can bind its successors"

        I think you are being rather over-cautious here.

        Under the prevailing laws of Nature, it is an indisputable fact that no institution can bind its successors, no matter what any rule book might say. As evidence, I cite *every* country that has ever overthrown a previous regime or gained independence from a colonial master.

        I suppose the contrast is being drawn with normal contracts, which can generally outlive the individuals who signed up to them as long as the institution they were part of continues to exist within the same legal system. There, however, it is the containing legal system that binds the successors, not the original players. The differences are so obvious that I'm surprised the "Parliament can't bind its successors" idea is treated with so much respect.

  16. Rampant Spaniel

    This is nothing more than Dave giving Rupert a reach around for his support in the election. The absolute biggest threat here is from newspapers and content scrapers. I really didn't expect them to manage to pass this due to the international repecussions, fool on me I guess. Time to add a few lines to the iptables and ensure everything has physical watermarks.

    There are a few, limited, decent examples for ophaned works laws. The concept isn't outrageous in some instances, its the fact that it will be abused for profit by companies. What they should do, if they really want access, is pay the going rate + say 25% to a 3rd party agency who attempt to track down the owner and hold the money. This was people who see genuine value in orphaned works can pay and get access and people who just see it as a way to not pay for something they otherwise would have to pay for, don't get access. If the orphaned work is so important, you pay for it, then somebody is incentivised to find you to pay you your share. The current proposals are a license to steal and nothing more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      How are you going to put a physical watermark on a decidedly non-physical thing?

      Also, how to they know what the 'going rate' is? Is it per cm^2 or per image?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: ?

        sorry, a visual as opposed to metadata mark.

        As for pricing, there is already an established method for pricing sales of images based of medium, quality \ image size, volume, exclusivity and resale rights. Thats how images are sold normally (there are other methods), if somebody wants to use an orphaned work they pay the same way they would for a normal work. You don't think we give work away for free right now do you ? ;-) If you are interested go check out getty's licensing info for an idea. I bet newspapers won't be half as interested when the have to pay the going rate.

  17. Andy Gates

    Don't see the problem.

    Things effectively in the public domain become legally in the public domain. Where's the evil?

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: Don't see the problem.

      Whilst I agree with you to some point, the evil lies within those companies who are going to exploit this by stripping metadata and suchlike so that it's nigh on impossible to locate the author.

      There's also the argument that as a copyright holder, I've got the right to decide how and when my work is used, and who by. This quite effectively strips that.

      The bigger issue, for the country as a whole, though - is what are the international repercussions going to be? If, for example, we get whacked with a massive fine, it's you and me who've got to pay it. Not to mention what happens if we're unable to export our work as a result of trade-restrictions.

      I've also got a vague memory of a small island being told it could dis-regard all American copyright for a given period as a result of something the yanks had done. Might be mis-remembering, but if not, that could be quite harmful as well

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Don't see the problem.

      Define public domain?

      You may have a different definition than say GlaxoSKB or Warner :) A movie released in cinema and dvd puts it into the public domain right? A drug released to maket (along with its chemical formula) is released into the public domain. Please do attempt to copy the above publicly and report back on what happens ;)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually the governments all over the world should be reforming the patent laws rather than messing around with copyright laws! So companies can patent "rounder-corners" or "not operator" but citizens cannot secure their own work!

  19. IHateWearingATie

    Error on statutory instruments in the article...

    Constitutional experts frown on the use of statutory instruments where the substantive points should be in primary legislation - they do not frown on the use of statutory instruments per se.

    For example, a 'proper' use of them is a bit like ref data in code - things that need to change regularly are best put into a statutory instrument, like the amount paid for certain benefits, or the date of a recurring event. The idea is that you know these things need to change, and you don't want to go through all the phases of amending an Act and tie up acres of parliamentary time.

  20. Jim Lewis

    Case in point. Warner sued over use of Nyan Cat

    Why should the originators of what has become a valuable franchisable icon not be protected from being ripped off?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so, can I use this...?

    Found this handy little logo

    As far as I can tell there is no watermark or meta tag data on it, I pulled it off this website

    Do you think the would mind?

    1. PHPonSnails

      Re: so, can I use this...?

      That's clearly not an orphan work, as it's very recognisable and anyone who recognises it knows who owns it.

      Your comment, though, does illustrate one of the problems with this debate, which is that very many opponents of the Act obviously don't have a clue what an orphan work actually is.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hmm so...

    should copies of films start turning up online without credits.. etc.. then would they then be deemed legal copies?

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: hmm so...

      "should copies of films start turning up online without credits.. etc.. then would they then be deemed legal copies?"

      No, and this leads to a point that Andrew maybe doesn't push as much as he could.

      Orphan work legislation will very rarely have any effect on works owned by the "big guys" as anything with any major success is likely to be easily researched, so is still well protected.

      It's us "little guys" with our videos that aren't notable enough for an IMDB entry or a Wikipedia page that produce stuff that can't be traced.

      The big guys would have blocked the legislation if it reduced their protection rather than ours.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We want Big Tech to win Govt is saying and Big Tech tells us that you have to lose...

    I read the article but was unclear as to how will this work across international borders beyond the UK..?

    Is this really a lobbying test case by Big tech, one that will be followed up in the US next?

  24. Homer 1

    'We actually feel very “proprietorial” about our creations'

    Except these so-called "creations" are inescapably derivative, so I have to wonder what justification there is for claiming they have an exclusive "proprietor"?

  25. b 3

    because we're all greedy money grabbing mercenaries..

    "A bleak public domain consisting of amateur doodles and contributions from the occasional, big-hearted fool, would eclipse creative markets."

    pre-supposing that everyone who ever did anything did it for the money. believe it or not, there are artists out there who do things because they love what they do. everyone's gotta eat tho, fo sho.

  26. Tom 7

    The legal term for this, when applied to other property,

    is called theft.

  27. Zot

    Where does my software stand in this situation?

    It's just a piece of code, after all. Will I still be protected if someone simply wants to hack it and give away for free? Am I still allowed to protest and issue takedown notices?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google's new Image Search

    Hmm, is the timing of this and the introduction of Google's new Image Search a coincidence?

    Google's new image search hot-links the original full size image rather than referring a user to the original website. Probably only a matter of time before we see Google take the entire content of a page (less the ads) so that they can repackage it (with their own ads). All to impove the user's experience and security!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This means we can use bittorrent legally

    Just strip any meta data an ddeclare it orphan'ed

  30. PHPonSnails

    Q: Is there anything in which Andrew Orlowski's knee doesn't jerk towards copyright maximalism?

    A. No.

    Anyway, here's an alternative viewpoint. I can't be arsed to retype it all here. Feel free to rip it off if you want to.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok a few questions

    So when are these firestorms supposed to happen?

    When the USA hears about this they will be pissed and will threaten us with sanctions for violating the BERNE convention on copyright.

    I know right.

  32. Haku


    Does this mean that original creators of artworks etc. could end up in a situation where they're sued by 3rd party companies claiming copyright because they deem them to be orphaned works?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So - Is this technically a return to the practice of registering your copyright (if you think the product is worth it), just as you had to do before the 'automatic copyright' we have now? If that is the case, why is everyone up in arms about it? If you want the rights, register them. If you can't be bothered, either let other people use it, since you obviously see no intrinsic worth in it, or (more importantly) don't publish, especially not to places that strip the metadata.

  34. btrower


    Anything that pushes back against the currently over-reaching copyright laws is a good thing (TM).

    The fact that the well funded industry weasels are not making arguments using actual numbers tells me that they already know that getting rid of copyright is *in the public interest*. They would have the figures, for sure and the only reason they would not be trotting out this research in every one of these discussions is if the figures *do not support their argument*.

    This reminds me of someone selling Yellow Pages placements years ago to my small company. I asked them what research there was as to what a dollar into Yellow Pages advertising would yield in terms of net profits or at least sales. They said they had no such figures. Really? All those many millions of ads all over North America for many decades and they had no numbers at all? How likely is that? Sure, they must have had (and have now) the figures showing what kind of payback you can expect for a Yellow Pages advertisement.

    In the case of the copyright weasels and the phone company they already get more than is in the public interest.

    Imagine for a moment the effect of suddenly releasing everything from copyrights and patents. It would result in an effective windfall worth thousands of dollars at a minimum to every man woman and child. For some people, the ability to purchase a generic drug could spell the difference between life and death.

    Who or what is served by the current copyright and patent laws? Even if you have copyrights or patents yourself, chances are that you would gain *much* more personally if copyright laws and patents were abolished. If these laws really served anyone other than a handful of rent-seekers they would tell you so and back it up with evidence.

  35. chris lively

    Just wow

    We live in a culture where theft is rampant. It is done by everyone from newspapers to kids.

    Because it is so common, most people don't even think of it as such. For some reason they believe they are entitled to do the things they do. Prime examples are those who ripped music CDs in order to play them on their iPod. Others include downloading book scans, while claiming they would have paid for it if it was available on ther kindle. Yes, you owned a CD, but you didn't have the right to make a copy.

    This law just makes it legal to screw over the content creators. It doesn't matter if you can't find them with a reasonable search. It doesn't matter if you are trying to preserve history. It's still taking something that isn't yours.

    I tell you what, the day a news agency makes their content ad free and gives the text away for use to anyone then I will consider supporting their own attempts to legalize theft. But that won't happen. Instead these guys want to steal whatever they want, however they want, in order to make a buck. Here's a better idea: pay photographers to use their photos.

  36. Homer 1

    When the majority breaks the law...

    Then surely the problem is the law, not the majority.

    Hence the reason laws are amended, and in some cases completely abolished, or replaced with better laws.

    That's how it should work in a democratic society. The only alternative would be rule by a minority who presume themselves an "elite" group more worthy of consideration than the rest of us, i.e. an oligarchy.

    Rather than become hysterical about the majority opposing your selfish demands, perhaps you should consider that if you choose to engage in activities where the fate of the end result is, due to its ethereal nature, intrinsically beyond your control, then you need to either accept that fact gracefully or find some other, more private activity outside the public domain, where you can exercise as much control as you want to without inhibiting other people's freedom.

    And yes, this is very much about freedom, not money. Copyright infringement is a form of trespass, not theft, and in this case it's trespass on what the majority considers public "land", because like all intellectual property it's inescapably derivative, and thus should not rightfully belong to anyone.

    1. Zot

      Re: When the majority breaks the law...

      You sound like someone who doesn't sell software/music/art on the Internet. It's not an 'us and them' concept, it isn't all big corporations against the little man. It's sometimes everyday people trying to make a living on the Internet, so it sounds reasonable to let them try, rather than lump everything in as evil money grabbing corporations.

      1. btrower

        Re: When the majority breaks the law...


        Yes. When you peel back the layers and follow the money, it is pretty much 'us' (ordinary people, including people who sell stuff on the Internet) vs. 'them' (rent seekers with little or no legitimate claim whose main function is to prevent people from using things).

        There are not many 'little guys' who gain a net benefit from copyright.

        If we abolished patents and copyrights, we would see a phenomenal renaissance. Suddenly all kinds of things out of reach would be available. Hardly anybody has free and easy access to the wealth of knowledge largely funded by our Universities. People use lesser hardware and software tools because they cannot afford the better ones. The world produces multiple different versions of the same thing because of licensing issues. People using stuff like Microsoft software either pay staggering amounts for the enterprise versions of software or work with inferior versions. A generation of netbook equipment was ruined by the deliberate crippling of Windows 7 'starter edition'.

        We waste all kinds of time and energy creating artificial scarcities by metering things with little or no marginal cost to produce.

        If we could remove licensing and patenting from the table, you would see surprising increases in stuff like bandwidth. Much better 'plug and play' capabilities. Cheaper hardware, not just from removed licensing costs, but from rationalized production and economies of scale.

        Lots of lawyers would be put out of work and that can't be bad.

        Government operations would be better and cheaper and taxes would go down.

        Devices like cars and appliances would get much smarter in short order.

        Windows would get a lot less buggy if its code was open source.

        Medicine would be available in greater abundance to those who need it.

        We could stop Monsanto's relentless march to controlling the world's food supply by leveraging patents and aggressive litigation. That would lower food prices. It would also remove one of the most serious 'frankenfood' threats. Monsanto is madly attempting to populate the world's farms with genetically modified plants that are unable to live if you do not pay money to Monsanto.

        The defacto cartels formed by defensive patent portfolio pacts would be partially broken up. It would lower costs.

        Our wireless network bandwidth inventory would not be such a disaster.

        There are synergistic effects. People would be healthier and happier and live longer because they would have easy access to medicines and more disposable income.

        What would the world look like if we always used the optimal solution known to us? If artists were free to use any and all material to create new things? If all of us were free to be life-long learners with easy instant access to all the world's knowledge and cultural artifacts?

        For complex artifacts such as automobiles and industrial machinery, it is not likely that every one of the very best ideas and software is available due not only to costs but to competitors holding patents on slightly better ideas for a given thing. We cannot cost effectively build the best automobiles we know how. Many compromises are made to designs solely because of patent and copyright restrictions not only in the automobiles themselves but in the body of software and equipment used to make them throughout the entire supply chain.

        Copyrights and Patents also apply to safety features in things. Think about that.

        1. johnrwalker

          Re: When the majority breaks the law...

          Making the original that is then sold as copies, is hard work. No copyright, no payment for that work = work not done. If you were to say that copyright goes way to long, that it is too easy to extend and extend and that it is at times abused and excessive, I would agree. However copyright has a very important function in a free society as a individual , trade-able economic right. Get rid of it and you will have fun for a while, but then what?

          1. btrower

            Re: When the majority breaks the law...

            Re: However copyright has a very important function in a free society as a individual , trade-able economic right.

            I emphatically disagree. It demonstrably does more harm than good. If the people so keen on retaining the keys to the world's intellectual wealth and cultural heritage had a good argument for this, you can bet that the case would be out there with real financial figures, and a logical evidence based rationale. What you see instead is a bogus unsubstantiated claim that net wealth magically increases if you restrict access to most of the world's knowledge and ridiculous misericordiam arguments that all of the human race must suffer to prevent the alleged unhappiness of 'artists' who need wealthy corporations to make money so that they can earn a living.

            A very tiny handful of fatcat artists work a couple of years and then retire or continue to work and become obscenely wealthy. The majority of artists remain starving and copyright is *NOT* their friend. Most of the money in the creative industries does not go to working artists. That is why you know who Walt Disney is and you likely never heard of Ollie Johnston. Walt Disney, made an enormous fortune in his capacity as a *businessman*, not as an artist. People like Ollie got paid to work. Copyright and its enormous downstream income went to business people and shareholders, not artists.

            Software developers who have been paying attention know that software patents and to a lesser extent copyrights are entirely a disaster that do nothing but harm. Certainly for myself, it has been a terrible hindrance both personally and professionally.

            If you want the very best software you need to free up more people than Bill Gates and Co. to write software. Right now, nobody can really do much without running afoul of Microsoft's vast empire of patents and copyrights backed by aggressive legal teams with near unlimited funds. Even companies like IBM and HP have to sign defensive patent agreements that remove the danger to them. This has created a patent oligarchy against which it is effectively impossible to compete on even ground.

            Copyrights do not present the danger that patents do, but they do still restrict access to the technical material necessary for artists to create.

          2. btrower

            Re: When the majority breaks the law...

            Re: Get rid of it and you will have fun for a while, but then what?

            More commentards could afford spell and grammar check. Some might use it.

            From then on, children everywhere would have access to the best educational materials and tools that world society is able to create. Education would become better, less expensive and available to all.

            The liberation of wealth in the form of access to all the content in the world will be ongoing.

            The liberation of wealth due to no longer wasting people's time, CPU cycles, storage and bandwidth with copy protection and metering schemes will be ongoing.

            The synergetic effects of allowing all creators to use the very best elements without regard to paying rent seekers will be ongoing. Everyone everywhere will have access to everything.

            The liberation of wealth due to economies of scale as production shifts in favor of the best there is rather than the best rent seekers will allow will be ongoing.

            The web will be better off. As I write this, the forces of evil are gathering to put Digital Restrictions Management into web standards. Yuck. We need to take away the incentive of rent seekers to lock up everything they can or destroy anything they can't lock up.

            We will not have to worry about the otherwise inevitable prospect of some works being forever lost because they are lost behind abandoned digital keys.

            We will have less to worry about from the Frankenfood purveyors attempting to gain control of our food supply.

            The notion that we need copyrights and patents in order to support creation or invention is a pernicious lie foisted upon us by rent-seekers who wish to exact whatever toll they can from the activities of others -- past and present. They claim that our cultural wealth is theirs and that we must pay them for access to it. We were all born into that wealth, why do only some of us have access?

            The notion that most musicians, for instance, depend upon copyrights for their living is patent nonsense. If it were true, those figures would be constantly shoved in your face every time the subject came up. Courtney Love had a wonderful analysis of what, for instance, record company involvement does for artists:

            Then what? -- Then the real fun begins. We could usher in a golden age unlike anything we have ever seen. Things that could *never* have been created whilst endlessly encumbered in disputes over copyrights and patents would be created. We would always use the best way we knew how to do things rather than the way with the least artificial obstacles in the way.

            We could lift restrictions on access to the world's scientific literature. How many times do millions of people re-invent the same wheel over and over and over because they can't do a quick search for it?

            Software would flourish as never before. Easily one half of all software development activity is wasted reinventing the same things and struggling with inferior tools. Not only is the time wasted writing things already written, invariably most of the implementations will be inferior to one already written but unavailable.

            We could clean out the dross from the world's patent databases to reveal the few truly novel and interesting patents -- and then we could use the patents to actually make things rather than as tools for lawyers to do legal battle with competitors.

            The incentive for those most odious of creatures -- patent trolls -- would disappear and take the trolls with them.

            Creative people could use the very best tools and the very best material to create things that met their artistic vision. They would not have to go begging for access to the rest of the world's music and literature. With 'copyright and patent taxes' gone, they could devote more of their time to pursuing their creative vision rather than endlessly paying rent seekers for things already created.

            More new things would be created and things of all types would continue to get less and less expensive.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: When the majority breaks the law...

              "More new things would be created and things of all types would continue to get less and less expensive." One thing that would definitely get 'cheaper' is paid work.

              1. btrower

                Re: When the majority breaks the law...

                Re: One thing that would definitely get 'cheaper' is paid work.

                If it only takes ten hours a week of your time to earn a living, what does it matter what number it gets assigned? If you could get paid for 10 hours at $10 per hour -- $100 per week in real bona-fide U.S. Dollars at 20 USD to the ounce of gold every week, it would be worth more than 100/20*$1300*44=$286K annually assuming eight weeks a year off. You can live fine on that. Why, you ask, am I using that valuation for the dollar? Because that is what it *would* still be except that rent-seekers chiseled away at its value this past century or so. BTW -- we are still waiting for the other bank bail out shoe to drop. Expect that $1300 per ounce for gold to look like an insane bargain a decade from now. The biggest rent-seeker bite out of the USD, already taken, has yet to appear on your books.

                Rights abusers have managed to convince people that digital ownership is a 'zero sum game' similar to tangible property like real estate. The only reason this even looks true is because rent-seekers prevent people from accessing digital copies of things. In fact, rent seekers have done their level best, at every turn, to inhibit the switch to digital versions of things at all, even if we pay them.

                Rent seeking is a parisitic drag on the productive capacity of the world. If we take it away, there will be significantly more aggregate wealth. What little we know of the global impact of removing copyright demonstrates that it significantly increases the generation of aggregate wealth.


                I am not saying that the creation of artistic works is without value or that people creating artistic works should not be paid. What I am saying is that the current mechanisms of copyrights and patents do much more harm than good. The people being paid as a result of copyrights are not creators and except for a tiny number, creators would be better off financially if copyrights and patents were abolished.

                It is not Steve Jobs or Apple that created the 'magic' at Apple, but it is Steve Jobs' Estate and Apple's shareholders that are the beneficiaries of the rent we pay for that 'magic'. The creators show up to work every day like they always did. The only reason we (well, you) celebrate Steve Jobs is that he had the time and money and chutzpah to take credit for the actual *creation* of the magic by merely saying "hey, why don't we (meaning you) make some magic?". Worse, most of the good 'magic' stuff was not even his idea.

                Around the time that Steve Jobs died, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie died as well. The world was awash with the praises for Steve Jobs, the guy who took all the credit and the money for other people's work. Except amongst programmers' who understood the value of his work, not much was said about Dr. Ritchie. Dennis Ritchie created the bedrock upon which most of the working computer industry is built. Most people never even heard of Dennis Ritchie before or since. He created something brilliant and beautiful whose spare beauty informs most of the world's top programming languages still, nearly a half century after its creation.

                Dennis Ritchie was rewarded, like most of us, by working for a living. He created the C programming language en passant whilst working at Bell Labs. He created value that is so enormous it is difficult to measure. Steve Jobs legacy, in my opinion, is entirely net negative. What little role he played with respect to the world of creation, it was to rip-off ideas from Xerox PARC and Bell Labs and inhibit its distribution by entangling it with legal shenanigans so he could charge rent on work not even his own.

                By allowing rent seekers to prosper, we celebrate and aid net negative players who stifle creation and ignore and inhibit net positive players who actually create the world's intellectual wealth. The real 'owners' who created this stuff gave it to us. That is their legacy, the ultimate payment for their work was to have their name attached to it for posterity. The fake 'owners' are doing their best to charge us money for taking it away from us and dishonering that legacy and erasing the names of our benefactors from history.

                I understand the necessity for capital and the necessity for some type of market mechanism to reward the deployment of capital. Copyrights and patents may reward capital, but at a cost that is not acceptable. We need to find a better way to foster the creation of new things.

                I believe there are enormous synergy effects that will make the world's wealth explode if we lift the drag created by enabling rent-seekers. Even if we just look at the one single example that we are able to now digitially make available to everyone in the world the entirety of the world's knowledge and cultural heritage, that alone should be worth whatever cost is otherwise involved. We merely have to collectively call this into being and it will come into being. It requires the vast majority of people who are injured by rent seeking to stand up to the tiny handful of bad actors who actually benefit from it.

    2. btrower

      Re: When the majority breaks the law...

      @homer 1

      Very well said. Your comparison to public land is spot on.

  37. johnrwalker

    This new law is not about 'free' anything.

    This law is not for a adoption of US style "Fair Use" provisions . Nor is it about reining in abuses of copyright such as those that interfere with the doctrine of first sale - i.e charges on the resale / re-use of copies you have paid for in full. Nor is it about reducing the over extended term of copyright.

    This law is about imposing compulsory collective management of copyright on most/many of the UKs small to middle size right-holders. This will not be 'free' just about everything, that is worth something, will be licensed i.e paid for. In fact it is certain to net cost more than the current situation.

    The individual right of copyright is being nicked, definitely not ended.

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