Orphaned photos…

P1010231-2Well do you take photos, as a hobby or professionally?  Do you post them onto the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram as well as many other sites?  Did you know the law has changed overnight as to who actually can benefit from your hard work?

As many of you might know, when you upload to some sites, especially the likes of Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, the metadata from your photos is stripped.  

Now our kind UK Tory Government, (and I mean that very sarcastically) has decided to implement a new Bill called the The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which was given Royal Assent on the 25th April 2013. It states:

…modernise the UK’s copyright regime to promote innovation in the design industry, encouraging investment in new products while strengthening copyright protections. Creating a level playing field for collecting societies and the thousands of small businesses and organisations who deal with them by strengthening the existing regulatory regime. For the first time orphan works will be licensed for use; these are copyrighted works for which the owner of the copyright is unknown or can’t be found. There will also be a system for extended collective licensing of copyright works;

So what does that mean?  Basically every photo you upload, if a person can’t find out that you are the owner of the photo, they will then have the right to use said photo and gain from it… providing they say they have tried to locate the owner.  Which is going to be bloody hard especially if sites strip the metadata from your photos.

David Bailey has even written a letter to George Osborne about this:

Dear George

I am writing because I am appalled at what the government is doing to our rights in the ERRB (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill). Why the ERRB by the way? Why can’t copyright be dealt with properly in a proper Copyright Bill? I’m told everyone will be able to get their hands on our so-called “orphans” so libraries and museums can publish old photographs whose authors have long been forgotten. But never mind what’s lying around on dusty old shelves, what about the millions of “orphans” that are being created now every day!

Why? Because social media, and everyone else for that matter routinely strip our names and contact details from our digital files. They simply should not be allowed to get away with this. They can because our government refuses to give us the right to our names by our pictures (Moral rights). So now commercial organisations will be allowed to make money from our “orphans”, but not us, the creators.

This legislation should never have been even considered without first giving us our moral rights, and is contrary to our rights under the Berne Convention. Why the rush? A scheme, the Copyright Hub – a scheme backed by the government – is being developed to ensure that those who wish to find our pictures can not only do so quickly online, but also find the contact details of the pictures’ owners. You are about to put the cart before the horse.

I’m told the real reason for speed is that “releasing” orphans will create growth. We all understand the need for growth. But where’s the evidence? The seemingly impressive financial figures presented originally in the Hargreaves Review have mysteriously had to be revised – down by 97%! Which now apparently amount to no more than 80p per taxpayer per year. Given the damage this legislation will now cause to taxpaying creators, damage no-one has so far taken into account, the effect of this legislation on economic growth will in fact be negative.

It’s not too late to think again!


David Bailey

So what options do photographers really have?… Even if they disable right click you can still get to the images to find the jpeg files by using page source or inspect element in your browser or there are screencap tools where you can just crop the watermark off of an image.  One alternative, I suppose,  is to put a whopping great big watermark right through the middle of your picture so that nobody can miss it, which will spoil the photo, but does protect your works.  Or you simply don’t display your photographs on the net…. at all.

The Register also has an article about this, in which it states:

Quite what happens next is not clear, because the Act is merely enabling legislation – the nitty gritty will come in the form of statutory instruments, to be tabled later in the year. Parliament has not voted down a statutory instrument since 1979, so the political process is probably now a formality.

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

“People can now use stuff without your permission,” explained photo rights campaigner Paul Ellis. “To stop that you have to register your work in a registry – but registering stuff is an activity that costs you time and money. So what was your property by default will only remain yours if you take active steps, and absorb the costs, if it is formally registered to you as the owner.”

And right now, Ellis says, there’s only one registry, PLUS. Photographers, including David Bailey, condemned the government for rushing through the legislation before other registries – such as the Copyright Hub – could sort themselves out.

Well done, you Tory Twats.. another set of voters you will lose because of this…



18 Comments Add yours

  1. Bren says:

    Reblogged this on Ryan Photography and commented:

    If you thought your photos were safe… think again..


  2. Mike Powell says:



    1. Bren says:

      I know, how it is going to create growth I don’t know… but I can see a lot of litigation ahead…


      1. Mike Powell says:

        It certainly does give me pause about the fact that I am not doing anything to protect my photos. I thought that putting on a little watermark might help, but that is, at best, only a small degree of protection.


        1. Bren says:

          I know I thought the same.. I have uploaded mine to Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter… I didn’t realise that they stripped the metadata.


  3. lignumdraco says:

    I guess I’ll have to consider my options now.


    1. Bren says:

      I know the ramifications of this are far and wide… I don’t know what will happen if someone from the UK uses a photo snapped by someone in another country? And it must be worrying if the likes of David Bailey wades in.


      1. lignumdraco says:

        This applies to photographs worldwide; any photographer, from anywhere can be affected by this.



        1. Bren says:

          Thanks for that link, I have added to the post along with other articles on this subject.


          1. lignumdraco says:



  4. Thanks for the pingback. Any readers can help by going to the epetitions on the government website and signing the petition about this. You can also write to your MP about it.

    It’s worth noting that not just professional photographers will be affected but ANYONE who has EVER uploaded a photograph to the internet.


    1. Bren says:

      You are welcome, I have put a link to the petition in the post. Flaming governments how this is going to create growth I don’t know… all it will do is get photographers to remove works from the internet.. and then they will be moaning because more people are out of work or having to claim top-up benefits because they can’t earn a decent wage.


  5. ginnietom says:

    sincerely yours, George Orwell, 1984….:-(((


    1. Bren says:

      Most definitely.. I wonder how many people are now rubbing their hands together thinking of all the money they can make out of other people’s work.


  6. ginnietom says:

    Reblogged this on g3fotoblog und kommentierte:
    that’s what I really dislike…NEW british copyright law …:-((


    1. Bren says:

      Thank you for the reblog.. I didn’t know about this until the other day until after it passed the Royal Assent stage..


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