New UK law will steal your orphan pictures

Photo: opensourceway

Photo: opensourceway

You know those pictures you took at a friend’s barbecue? It was after you’d been to the beach. I know you remember that. You put a whole album of photos from that trip on Flickr. You know, the ones you never got around to tagging as yours?

Well, a new British law could mean that all of those photos aren’t yours anymore.

The law in questions is the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which received Royal Assent just last week, meaning that it’s more or less certain to be enacted.

The act changes English copyright law so that any images without owner information – the so-called orphan works – can be used commercially by companies.

And The won’t have to pay you.

Now, you might think that this isn’t much of a problem for you, but perhaps you should take a closer look at your pictures on various social sites, because many of them will strip the owner information off your pictures when you upload them.

It means that the doors have been opened for big companies wanting to farm photos for commercial use, thereby making it much easier for them to bypass professional photographers and the like.

Not surprisingly, the photo community isn’t happy.

“The mass of the public will never realise they’ve been robbed,” Paul Ellis, a photo rights campaigner told The Register.

“The radical free-our-information bureaucrats at the Intellectual Property Office had already attempted to smuggle orphan works rules through via the Digital Economy Act in 2010, but were rebuffed. Thanks to a Google-friendly Conservative-led administration, they’ve now triumphed.”

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