Copyright for small producers benefits everyone
I'll first declare a business interest. I have been a pro photographer since the late 1970s. Perhaps it would help if I explain in simple terms how copyright actually keeps overall costs down for clients, at the same time as rewarding those who honestly try to do their best work.
Can we first of all establish a few key points.
Costs. I run a business. It has costs - fixed overheads such as rent, rates,staff wages, waste disposal, light and heat, accountancy, etc. as well as the costs of consumables, purchase, maintenance and replacement of equipment and finally my own wages and a reasonable return on my capital investment.
Demand. There is no shortage of demand for our services. This is not a 'buggy whip' situation, where a product or service is simply obsolete. If anything, the visual nature of our society and the relative visual sophistication of people means there is more need for good quality, professionally created images than ever before.
So what's the problem? Well, fewer and fewer individuals or businesses have any respect for copyright, nor understand why it's in their long term interests to do so. It's very easy to complain that copyright only serves creators, not consumers, but that misunderstands the way it has worked in our situation.
In the past, we used to charge a fairy moderate fee for the initial job where individuals were concerned. We could do that because we knew we would make the bulk of our profits from aftersales - extra print orders or re-use of the work. in other ways. The result was low cost services, with higher cost prints. But of course, we only achieved decent aftersales if we did the job well enough for people to actually want extra copies of our work. There was a genuine, financial incentive for us to do the best we could. Similar factors applied when dealing with business clients, even though our charge for service was higher and our charge for prints lower, relatively, because they tended to order much bigger quantities of prints.
Now those clients ignore copyright and don't pay us for the copies they want, instead paying a third party copyshop to produce them ilegally. Local trading standards would take action if they were duplicating CDs or DVDs en masse, but they don't when it's the work of local photography businesses.
So, what do we do? If it's practically impossible to enforce our intellectual property rights, our only possible course of action is to charge enough for our service to cover all those costs I mentioned above, or stop providing those services altogether. It's hard to see how either of those courses of action benefits our clients.
The 'orphan works' problem doesn't really enter the equation for us. It's not a question of our clients not knowing we did the work, or that we own the copyright. It's just that they're too shortsighted to realise that ignoring our rights will either increase the future cost of our services or remove those services altogether.