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back to article UK kids' art project is 'biggest copyright blag ever' – photographer

A nationwide school arts project that commercialises children's artwork has been branded "the biggest blag in the history of the UK". Face Britain, a world-record breaking attempt supported by the Prince Charles's Foundation for Children and the Arts, has gathered some 70,000 self portraits from youngsters since it was launched …

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Anonymous Coward

St Paul's School, London requires the same

Their Terms and Conditions state that the Copyright of anything created by a pupil whilst attending the £10,000/term school vests with the School itself.

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WTF?

Re: St Paul's School, London requires the same

You have GOT to be joking... I hope...

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Re: St Paul's School, London requires the same

How does that work? I mean, as a parent, I can sign the paperwork on behalf of my child but the copyright isn't mine to sign away and the child would not be of an age to sign a legally binding contract would they? Perhaps I'm missing something in this theft game.

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Law
Black Helicopters

Re: St Paul's School, London requires the same

My university had similar wavers to sign as part of our final year projects. I questioned this with several higher ups, they basically said:

1 - it's was done to protect the students work from exploitation from others, not to exploit it themselves

2 - In reality, it wouldn't stand up in court if they ever tried to enforce their ownership of the copyright, so just sign it anyway.

I think like the article suggests, education should really be focusing on helping students and pupils understand the power of holding rights, rather than penalties of infringing them!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: St Paul's School, London requires the same

As the parent you are the legal guardian, so yes, you can sign away their rights. The child however cannot, as they are deemed too young to know what they are signing away.

Unfortunately most parents also don't know what they are signing away.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: St Paul's School, London requires the same

AC: I wouldn't be so sure without a full legal opinion. Would you be able to sign away their inheritance from granny just because you're their guardian? In either case it could be argued the act was in no way beneficial.

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When I did Music Tech at 6th form we had to create compositions. As part of the submission of our work we had to transfer copyright to the exam board!

Doubt they'd make anything out of mine, but it does make you wonder

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Coat

Sounds like a scam to me...

or possibly a scamola.

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Anonymous Coward

It would not suprise me if...

... one of Cameron's cronies is behind this scheme.

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Merely a case of extending the logic of Corporate Web 2.0

It's very likely that these kids had already given up the rights to various creations that they uploaded online, e.g. by uploading a photo to Facebook (thus giving away the exclusive copyrights to Facebook, so if Facebook wants to sell, license, transfer copyright, or sublicense their work, they have that right).

The "charity" - a particularly greedy one, apparently - has looked at this model and said "hey, why not us? Everyone seems to be doing it and no one is doing anything to prevent that." In that sense, you cannot really fault their logic. As an element of web 2.0, this is now a widely tolerated practice, and I hope that those of you who object to this particular instance will be consistent by applying the same principles to big internet companies.

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Re: Merely a case of extending the logic of Corporate Web 2.0

AFAIK, things like facebook, flickr etc get a non-exclusive right to use your IP, i.e. they can use it how ever they want (such as that creepy product advertising using you face on your friends homepage) but you can also use the IP in anyway you want as well.

Thats different from what this charity is trying to claim.

My guess is this isn't sinister, I bet the people setting it up just haven't looked at copyright properly and didn't realize you can get non-exclusive rights, I bet it's the same terms they've been using in other projects for decades and no one has called them on it before.

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Re: Merely a case of extending the logic of Corporate Web 2.0

I'm not on Facebook (can't stand it) but if their Ts & Cs are similar to the boilerplate legalese that a lot of online services use, people posting stuff there won't have given up the rights to their material - they'll still own the copyright, but will have granted a royalty-free, unlimited, yadda-yadda licence to Zuckerberg's minions to do whatever they like with it. From a practical point of view, it's not much different, but it is better than something that explicitly gets you to hand over your IP rights completely.

I seem to recall that one or two sites ran afoul of this kind of thing in the past (Picasa? LinkedIn? Maybe others?) although I still don't think any of them went to the point of asking you to hand over your IP altogether. And they did change the wording of their Ts & Cs as a result of people kicking up a stink about it. It will be interesting to see what happens here...

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I seem to recall that one or two sites ran afoul of this kind of thing

More then one or two, including Microsoft. But they hid it in a 12 page TandC. At the time people were calling it "all your base are belong to us".

At least this is clear on a single page of paper that you sign and not hidden behind an "I agree" check box.

This looks like a Vanity scam as others have said (for 99.99% of the art who would want it on a mug other then family members?) but what if this were a well respected charity?

What is the difference between...

- Giving an hour of your time to charity.

- Spending an hour creating something and giving that to charity.

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Re: Merely a case of extending the logic of Corporate Web 2.0

The usual web-site copyright grab makes some sense as an attempt to allow the website to function: think how much copying happens as the data is viewed. And I don't think there's much chance of removing the data from any back-up system. So they end up having to talk about some sort of perpetual and non-exclusive right.

It's one of the non-piracy reasons why current copyright law isn't a good fit with the internet.

There are parts of UK copyright law where it matters who provided the raw materials, photography is one. There are probably more court decisions than any non-specialist can know of which could be applied to this contract. My own view is that we're all suffering from the side effects of the aggressive IP enforcement which happens these days. Projects such as this one would rather be mocked than sued.

A smart lawyer can probably draft a better contract in their sleep. Too many people don't even realise that publishers only need a licence.

Copyright 2012 David G. Bell

(The Register looks to do this sort of stuff right.)

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Vic
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Re: Merely a case of extending the logic of Corporate Web 2.0

> The usual web-site copyright grab makes some sense as an attempt

> to allow the website to function

No it doesn't.

A website needs a licence to reproduce copyrighted material and to permit others to make (transient) copies of that material in the course of viewing the website.

It does not need to own the copyrights.

Vic.

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Variation

Sounds much like a variation on a creative writing scam that seems to do the rounds of schools also. In that kids get terribly excited to find they've won and got published (including in the British Library - their equivalent of the Buck House projection here), before finding the same goes for 70-80% of participants, all of whose parents are subsequently morally blackmailed into paying £15+ for vanity-publishing tat and not a penny of royalty comeback.

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JRS

Re: Variation

Just had that here (North Somerset). The letter makes it sound like your childs work has been carefully selected as a winning entry, they even include a certificate. A few parent playground discussions reveal that practically every child in the school has had their work selected and this is just a money making printing scam.

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CC by attr?

I agree, I have no idea why they need full rights. AIUI Creative Commons by attribution would let them do everything they need.

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Children don't know what they're giving away.

Maybe not but it is the parents who have to sign. Unfortunately too many give in to the "I'll be laghed at, everbody else is doing it" pleas of their offspring.

There is only one thing to remember when submitting creative work for anything, don't. Invariably the T&Cs mean you giving up any right you have over your work. In many competetions it's not only the winners who lose control over their work but everybody who has entered, so you could come bottom of the pile yet the organisers can use your work for whatever they want.

TV programmes too. My children once had the chance to go on a popular children's TV programme yet I refused to sign the waiver. Not for any safety issues but solely because it would have granted the makers total control over any recorded footage.

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And they wonder why kids make illegal copies

The underlying story is that the people who so willingly give up their own property rights do so because they don't recognise the worth, or value, of IP. Not just of their own work, but of other peoples'.

Since they attach no value - monetary or otherwise to "stuff", can it come as any surprise that they therefore don't feel there's anything wrong with "stealing" copyrighted material?

As an exercise: did anyone ever actually _read_ the Ts & Cs for El Reg before they signed up? Are there any - I don't know, I never read any conditions, I just click "I agree" - just like everybody else.

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Actually that's a really good point; if the kids had received a cut from every mug/mousemat/doodah sold with their work on it, it might instil a better understanding of the idea that if you create something you can actually get paid for it... and that by "pirating" that album (for example) instead of buying it you're actually depriving the writer/artist of some cash (perhaps not as much as the middle-men, but even so).

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Let's be honest here - for 99.99% of everyone who submits artwork, nobody but the creator and their relatives will buy any derivatives of the artwork.

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Facepalm

Oh, that's fine then. As long as it's only a tiny number of children who are being ripped off...

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Thank you Mystic Meg.

One of the portraits could well end up selling millions of items of merchandise - and the creator would see nothing from it.

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What's the difference

between giving your "work of art" or any other item of value to a charity?

This one may or may not be a scam but that's beside the point.

If you give your old clothes to charity sale do you expect a cut of the sale?

Copyright blag my arse.

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Re: What's the difference

A good point Tom . If this property wasnt duplicatable it would be simple - if you give something away you havent got it any more.

Remenber Tony Hart and his "take hart" program? before the days of copiers and digitalisation the kiddies used to have to send their originals in, and they used to say sorry , we cant return them..

But nobody minded then, after all the kid kept quiet for an hour with his paint set , and then sent the results away. no worse off than if he'd sat there building a lego model and then smashed it up.

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Re: What's the difference (@ Mark63)

Did Tony Hart ever sell the works for a few hundred quid to a member of the child's family though? That's what we're talking about here -- kids drawing pictures which adorn products to be sold back to their family and friends as well as anyone else who will buy it.

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Re: What's the difference (@ Mark63)

The kids in the Tony Hart example provided the programme with valuable content and ratings in exchange for the sense of pride and achievement at having their work displayed in such a manner.

This charity is doing nothing more or less than that exact same thing only with the good sense to cover their arses to prevent problems if some whiney fuckstick cries foul when they see their scrawl on a mug being sold for tuppence, a scrawl which could never in all seriousness have ever made any money from un-supported sales.

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Re: Re: What's the difference (@ Mark63)

The BBC was/(is i.nthe UK) non commercial and, at that point in its history at least, ratings were next to meaningless in any commercial sense. The content itself was, thus, pretty much valueless -- indeed it was joked that Tony did some of it himself and if that were the truth the programme would be no different.

Also, the charity does not need to take ownership of all rights to the work to do what it is doing. It could merely ask that entry to the competition give it a license to use the work.

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Vic
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Re: What's the difference (@ Mark63)

> This charity is doing nothing more or less than that exact same thing

That's simply not true.

What this "charity" is doing is to insist on copyright transference. They have no need for this - a licence would suffice.

Such a transference includes all sorts of rights - including the right to resell that copyright. Including the right to control the image or any copies of it.

Now maybe they're good guys and would never do such a thing. That's an easy situation to deal with - they just need to change their Ts and Cs to require a licence, not a transference. That way, whatever happens, the child retains copyright over its works.

But what happens if the charity (or its successors) gets misappropriated by the Bad Guys(tm)? Well, anything, really. This is a total transference of ownership.

Vic.

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Wont somebody think of the children!

Surely there should be a law against screwing kids like this.

Can a child even consent to a contract like this?

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Coffee/keyboard

Ts & Cs for El Reg

But do any of us Commentards post anything of any Intellectual value?

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FAIL

Re: Ts & Cs for El Reg

Well, they did on mumsnet as it turned out, when mumsnet sold the forum content to the Daily Mail. There was quite a stink about that, and some of the more clued-up members ended up demanding their posts be expunged, then they left and set up their own site.

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Prince Charles

"We were also curious about an issue parents raised. The pupils appear to receive nothing from the commercial exploitation of their original work, while the charity receives 20 per cent. "So where does the other 80 per cent go?" asks Leighton"

Did anyone ask Prince Charles where the other 80% is going to?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prince Charles

Postage, materials, rent, e-commerce website running costs?

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FAIL

Re: Prince Charles

Of course, the heir to the throne and serial charity-patron (not to mention contributor) would be prime suspect in a scam involving the theft of copyright from Primary School children.

I agree that the money needs to be followed but I think you might sniffing a trail that exists only in your head.

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Flame

"Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

who feels very disgusted by this ? A few weeks ago, a couple of cars pulled up in our close, out got about 9 people, who then started ringing bells trying to get people to sign up a monthly DD for MacMillan trust. The guy who hit us was almost aggressive, and it was pleasure to shut the door in his face. Then, of course, you have the cold callers trying to get you to sign up for a monthly DD. These people are being PAID to sign people up. They've been allowed to use the charities name in a commercial drive. I have never been able to get a straight answer as to what %age of the DD goes to the actual charity.

It's fundamentally dishonest, and bad for all charities.

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Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

No, they'll be getting commision on any they sign up.. They are unlikely to even be being paid min wage, they'll be "self employed".. Well that's what a lot are, the charities farm out the actual 'signing up' to different companies, probably to avoid the stigma of not paying people.

On the other hand, apparently the DD's do actually "work" in terms of getting cash in, so probably won't be stopping soon.

( friend has done similar, he was even out of pocket for the travel expenses, but hey, anything to keep the house :( )

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Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

Same with RSPCA here. Guy turns up asking for a donation. I say sure, here's a couple of quid. Then he says 'oh we can't take cash, you have to sign this form, can I come in?'. Bad move.

Within 5 minutes he's escalated it to a minimum monthly donation of £20 (which I had to point out to him on the form - he was expecting me to sign it without reading it!), whereupon he was somewhat surprised to be physically picked up and thrown out of the house.

Later I found he'd taken the partially filled in form (which alas had my bank details by then but not my signature.. note to self.. take form and destroy it first), forged my signature and attempted setup a direct debit anyway.

Needless to say that's one charity that will *never* get a penny from me.

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Mushroom

Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

You are not, and it's been going on for a century. Twain and Mencken wrote about their days in journalism where "charity beggars" would try to pull all sorts of things to get their charities' names in print ... and thus keep their cushy charity gigs.

Mencken had a rule when he edited The Smart Set and American Mercury. He would only publish anything from a charity if said charity sent him information on membership, salaries of the ten highest-paid employees, names of the top ten contributors and their level of donation, a budget breakdown to show how much money actually went to what the charity claimed to be doing, etc, and have it sent via the US Mail. He insisted on the latter, because to provide fraudulent information via the mail system for purposes of obtaining money or commerce was a federal offense.

And shockingly, not one charity in 20+ years agreed to it.

And he started this before WWI.

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Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

"I have never been able to get a straight answer as to what %age of the DD goes to the actual charity."

As far as I know a lot of charities nowadays publish their accounts*, and will show what percentage of donations received go directly to the cause they collect for.

* the more serious ones at least

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

I refuse to set up a DD for any charity as I find that circumstances affect my donations - natural disasters for example - and I would rather choose which charities I donate to on the basis of immediate need.

I have had more than a few people asking me to donate, I pull out my cash and they say we need a DD. Back in my pocket goes the money to be donated to some other charity that actually wants it.

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Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

My understanding is this;

When you sign a DD for whatever figure, the agency that got you to sign up keeps all but around 10% from the first year. The 10% or so is the money that goes to the actual charity that commissioned them to do the hard sell on you. I believe (although I will have to check), that the commissioning charity gets to keep all subsequent monies, although I am not certain about that.

It also seems to me that the so-called charities that commission this sort of nonsense already get a substantial lump of tax-payers funded government money, so as far as I am concerned, they can forget getting even more money from me.

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Flame

Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

*but* the collectors are not being paid by the charity. So there is no flow of money. What *is* happening, is the collectors are raising £xxxx (using the charities name, logo, and goodwill) and paying £xxxx-£yyyy to the charity, where it appears as a simple coroporate donation. So there is no visibility of how much the collection agency is making.

And I bet the contract between the agency and charity insists that in the event of the DD being cancelled, the agency *still* get their whack.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Charities" acting like business ... Am I the only one

Just over twenty years ago I made a £10 credit card donation to the NSPCC on behalf of a friend who didn't have a card at the time.

And more than two decades later I'm *still* receiving regular begging letters from them as a result of that single donation. I don't know what they've spent on printing and postage, but it must be considerably more than the original ten quid.

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The Foundation told us...

"...that full copyright was required for the merchandising exercise..."

Presumably this is untrue and presumably this Foundation took some legal advice prior to setting up this scam. The possibilities at this point are therefore:

1) the Foundation's legal advice was *really* bad and they ought to seek further legal advice (from different lawyers).

2) the Foundation are lying to an interested and informed journalist, and they ought to seek PR advice (from someone with a clue).

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Flame

Outrageous

Says it all, really

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Anonymous Coward

From the comments on here anyone would think these childrens paintings were actually valueable. Maybe I've still got some paintings I did when I was 10 years old, I'll contact the auction house right away, I'll be a millionaire soon!

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Mushroom

One name

Stephen Wiltshire

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