back to article One-click, net-modelled UK copyright hub comes a step closer

Britain's experiment in "making copyright work like the internet" reached beta stage on Tuesday following a deal with a major picture library which gives developers half a million photos to work with. The non-profit, open source Copyright Hub is designed to bring about one-click licensing of relatively low-value digital works …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, it's an image library?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)
    2. CmdrX3

      Well from what I can gather it's more of a database of who owns what as well as making it easier to obtain permission from aforesaid who to use the aforesaid what along with what usage rights you would be entitled to, etc. Basically a Google for the copyright information on images, video, or other copyrighted material that's littered around the internet..... however I could be completely wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "however I could be completely wrong."

        Your comment mirrors my interpretation of the article, including your caveat. This would suggest that the article needs to be clearer. Unfortunately AO's mixing it with the commentards instead of doing his day job properly. A bit like me at the moment....

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Articles can always be clearer. The Hub isn't a complicated idea, but it might be unfamiliar.

          DNS is not a bad analogy. DNS is a service and a platform (ie, middleware). The Hub allows you to plug in metadata databases, and apps that allow you to use those metadata libraries for transactions. I don't think it specifies what they might be. Just like DNS resolves a name to a number and doesn't tell you what applications (http, ftp) are there.

          "Hey, come down from your ivory tower, Mr Journalist! I dare you to show yourself below the line!"


          "Oy. Stop engaging here we don't like it"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the code for their website is open, great.

    A better idea would be a site where people who have ideas/designs/creations that they want releasing into the wild can do so that nobody else can monopolise them.

    Open source IP (it's for the crowd)

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      "A better idea would be a site where people who have ideas/designs/creations that they want releasing into the wild can do so that nobody else can monopolise them."

      You've just invented copyright. Congratulations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You misconstrue my meaning

        by 'releasing into the wild' I meant to free that brilliant idea so that anybody who wanted to use it could do so freely and that no individual/corporate could claim it for their own exclusive use.

        Suppose I come up with an idea but I'm not interested in commercialising it such as a personal anti-attack alarm that has a piercing siren, bright strobe light (7 pulses per sec), camera and geolocation. When activated it sends my position and images of my attacker to the emergency services.

        (could be used as a mountain rescue aid as well)

        Assuming this hasn't already been done then anybody who wished to use this idea and develop a product based around it is free to do so, it would also allow anyone else to build a better/cheaper/more efficient version and put theirs on the market as well.

        It would level the playing field and allow proper free market competition.

        (not the corrupted protectionist market we have now)

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: You misconstrue my meaning

          by 'releasing into the wild' I meant to free that brilliant idea so that anybody who wanted to use it could do so freely and that no individual/corporate could claim it for their own exclusive use.

          This website will allow you to do exactly that!

          It will firstly enable you to assert your legal right to the brilliant idea, enabling you to do the second thing which is to set the rules of usage and the fee for such usage. Any one who challenges your right to set terms has to prove you stole the brilliant idea from them.

          However, I seem to remember that under UK law a contract isn't made unless money changes hands, hence why you often hear about multi-million pound companies being brought for a pound.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You misconstrue my meaning

            Yes but I might nott want to assert my legal right (assuming I have one) to the idea, I just want to stop somebody else grabbing it and attempting to hold a monopoly, it would be a repository for free ideas that can't be copyrighted/patented because they are in the public domain.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    It's the "You can do all sorts of things" line that sets off alarms for me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > "Is it reasonable that people who create content should have ownership of that content? Most people would say 'yes',"

    This kind of thing is becoming more and more common.

    You can't own a work. What does that even mean?

    Copyright affords authors some limited privileges with respect to reproduction, nothing more.

    I wish we could sort out our language with respect to copyright. I sometimes think that a lot of the friction around the issue of copyright is poor, emotionally-motivated use of language.

    Can we agree that copyright violation is not "stealing".

    Can we also agree that copyright doesn't grant "ownership", it bestows some limited, very specific, privileges.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it reasonable ...?

      Agreed. Also, anyone with any understanding of the law knows that "people who create content" do not in general "have ownership of that content". Many of them are employees, so the copyright (not the "content" - stupid word) belongs to their employer. Also, the GPL is not the "cornerstone of free software"; it's just one of many licences. Also, what is "depends on strong property rights" trying to imply? Does "strong" mean "lasting at least 7000 years", perhaps, and having government-funded gangs that kidnap people internationally when corporations claim their copyright has been violated? I can't help being suspicious ... What are "weak" property rights and why would they not be good enough for the GPL?

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Is it reasonable ...?

        "Also, anyone with any understanding of the law knows that "people who create content" do not in general "have ownership of that content". "

        That's your problem right there, anon. The law ensures the individual owns what they create, via copyright, automatically, for a limited period. Everybody knows this and understands this, whatever normative and political views they draw from that.

        You, by contrast, have built an entire worldview on deliberately misunderstanding the law and the purpose of granting temporary exclusive rights to people. Your politics is founded on getting it wrong.

        (In Germany, you can't even assign that ownership to anyone else. All usage by anyone who isn't an owner is done by contract. The world hasn't fallen apart.)

        As a result of insisting that up is down, and black is white,

        1) your arguments have become hysterical eg:

        ..."government-funded gangs that kidnap people internationally"...

        ...and 2), ethically unsupportable. A twice convicted fraudster was arrested for perpetrating a serious economic crime. He profited from the work of others without paying them a penny. Since black is white, he becomes the "victim". He becomes poor victimised Kim...

        The reason your arguments have become hysterical and morally dubious is because you've rejected the facts. Your political arguments aren't reality-based - they're based on a wierd sense of justice (a political foundation) and are then selectively chosen or misrepresented to support that judgement. Your political views *require you* to misunderstand the intent and expression of the law.

        That way madness lies - and it sounds like you're halfway there.

      2. MarionGropen

        Re: Is it reasonable ...?

        There are a few areas where your point about who owns the work is true. There are far more where it's not. You seem to have a very narrow dataset.

    2. Buster

      Its a property right _______.

      In EU and UK law copyright is a property right and as so confers ownership. Denial that copyright is a property right does make it easy to excuse ones self from violating those rights. The friction around copyright come from the wanton ignorance and lack of common decency of those who think that everything on the internet is there for the taking.

    3. IsJustabloke

      This is what I agree to...

      I took the photographs therefore I own them. if you want to use them then you'll need my permission. if you use them without my permission then you might as well stick your hand in my pocket and help yourself to some loose change.That sound like stealing to me. Its not rocket science.

    4. MarionGropen

      I Disagree

      It is possible to steal something that isn't a physical object, in my reading of the word "steal."

      It is possible to own something that isn't a physical object, in my reading of the word "own."

      You may disagree, but whether you do or not, you don't get to decide what gets done with anything I create, including art, books, inventions or processes.

      You can be as generous as you like with what YOU create, and that's incredibly easy. You can already renounce the rights you have over the work you create. You post it to a blog or web page, with a copyleft notice, and it's free as a bird. Search engines make finding such releases pretty simple.

      The fact that you have the ability (might) to use my work without permission (aka stealing) gives you the right to do so. Might doesn't make right. Not even on the internet.

  5. Pigeon

    I remember this Plastic Jesus on El Reg, grr.

    I dont care if it rains of freezes,

    but that dancing plastic Jesus,

    pushes things a little bit too far.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every bit of copyrighted (or patent) work is based on another's copyrighted (or out of) work.

    As Isaac Newton said: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants"

    The whole copyright/patent system is no longer fit for a 21st century technology world where they are used primarily as a means of corporate bullying rather that a genuine reward for innovation.

    1. Buster

      @Teresa Orlowski --------What strikes me as somewhat ironic when I see this argument pop up again is that the only reason that you could contribute to these comments is because of the progress that was made in integrated circuits as a result of a long series of developments protected by IP forcing other inventors to find new ways to invent better technology. Intel and AMD are continually striving to out do each other as I write because they cannot just copy the others technology and if they could they would never make a profit and so be able to invest in research to develop new good stuff. Without IP you would be lucky to be apprenticed to a member of the Tallow Chandlers Guild.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ buster

        So swipe to unlock and rounded corners are innovative inventions ?

        A counter argument is that in a truly capitalist society where IP does not exist you could have improvements brought about to technology much faster and more cheaply as there is incentive to innovate over your competitors otherwise you go out of business. The innovation comes solely by market forces where the best product for the best price will survive the market, don't confuse trade secrets with market protection. Patents and copyrights didn't exist in ancient Greece or Rome but the innovative contributions of those societies were enormous and underpin most of the current western world.

        In war (eg ww2) patents and IP go out of the window, look at the technological progress that was achieved from 1939 to 1945.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Buster

          @ Teresa Orlowski --- Nothing can stop vexatious use of copyright, design rights or patent law (or any other legal process) being absurd. But that does not make all of IP law absurd and I imagine you would have a different view. There is a bit of a difference between rounded corners and packing millions more transistors onto a processer chip when you are up against the physics and you need to be nice to the shareholders so that you can get a new fabrication plant built to make it. I am afraid that market forces do not cause the spontaneous generation of innovation without investment and a costly and complex technological infrastructure. More often real innovation like VisiCalc creates markets that did not even exist, and again VisiCalc, while not being the only reason, is one of the main reasons that you and I can afford to post here.

          Yes Roman and Greek civilisations contributed to what is and was good and bad in the west but compared to the innovation explosion of the industrial revolutions contribution to technology and scientific thought and changes it brought about in society it was A level stuff at best. If you are referring to the US patent secrecy act of WWII it did not stop patents but kept secret important military technologies and the US government actually filed patents during the conflict. The UK patent office is quite clear about monitoring patent submissions that may contain or disclose sensitive technologies.

          The article is about the copyright hub and has nothing to do with patents or design rights so if you understood the difference between each type of IP and maybe read the act or actual accounts of how it is supposed to work then you could put up a critique.

    2. MarionGropen

      Are you seriously claiming that everyone who invents, everyone who writes, or paints or sculpts, or whatever -- does it under a work-for-hire contract? Because you are so very wrong. Most copyrighted work is done by individuals on their own time, and fully owned by them, for just one example.

      The fact is, that most **commercialization** of these new inventions, creations and ideas requires a hefty chunk of cash. I can quote numbers for the US book publishing business, and I'm sure others here can quote numbers for software or medicines, or whatever.

      Crowd funding works for tiny little amounts of money, and for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the ideas and things that we demand for our society. For the rest, we need to fall back on the systems that underpin the success and wealth (relative to earlier times) of our modern world.

      You may feel overwhelmed, crushed, or badly-done-by in that world. Lots of people do. But we're alive and well. All but a very small fraction of us wouldn't be, without the web of products and services that our financial and production and distribution systems make possible.

      Can we improve this? Of course. But maybe it would be a good thing if you understood a little bit about the whole thing before proclaiming that you know best for the rest of us. Because some of the comments about IP here seem to be grounded on bad data and worse assumptions.

  7. Vociferous

    Smells bad.

    You don't need to register your work to have copyright. Copyright is automatic. If someone uses a photo you've taken without your express permission, they're in violation of copyright, it's that simple. Statements like "copyrighted work is simply used without permission because it's difficult to find the creator" does not make sense -- it is not legal to use a work simply because you can not find the creator.

    I suppose this site might be the equivalent of a stock photo site, i.e. you deposit your information and works, and the site manages the sale of your works for you. If so it's not a "copyright hub".

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: Smells bad.

      To be honest, to me the 'Copyright Hub' sounds more like the Government has decided to enter the Stock Image market to me.

      There are, after all, already numerous sites you can go to and pay a fee to use an image under the creator's terms.

      There are obviously some differences, but at a base level my limited reading on the Copyright Hub doesn't seem to differentiate it much in terms of the end result for the person wanting to use the work. And for those who claim "I only used it because it was too hard to find the creator" will probably continue using the same crappy excuse anyway.

  8. Buster

    It's Transactional Cost Economics

    One of the economists advising the Hargreaves (we don't have a clue but we will pretend anyway) Review was an expert on TCE. Since most of the economics of the exercise involved plucking figures out of the air, ignoring how the economics of the creative industries worked and was there to brown nose the "vision" that David Cameron had when he was so impressed by visiting Google, it lacked any real basis. So having an expert on something was at least one thing that could be pointed at and applauded.

    TCE is all about understanding and reducing the costs of transactions mostly between large businesses and working out how all the businesses involved can benefit. The HUB is the outcome of that expertise and is based on the need to simplify the difficulties of obtaining licences for specific pieces of work and to solve the complaint from unauthorised users that it so difficult to get permission to use copyright works and that is why there is so much infringement. The trouble is that what the HUB is supposed to solve is not so much a problem as an excuse. It may prove useful in making some types of works more available for licencing and provide one less excuse for works listed on it but it is not going to change the fundamental problem.

    The Hargreaves (we don't care what you say we are going to do what David wants anyway) Review only plucked one straw from the bundle that is TCE in that the HUB should provide a simple easy mechanism for obtaining a licence. What it failed to take into account is the cost to police and enforce the licences. It seems that to have a creative business that is profitable the cost of running it increase because there is no point in licencing something at a price that you cannot afford to enforce.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like