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back to article UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now

Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr? If so, you'll probably want to read this, because the rules on who can exploit your work have now changed radically, overnight. Amateur and professional illustrators and photographers alike will find themselves ensnared by the changes, the result of lobbying by …

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Probabliy better understood as...

"'It's corporate capitalism,' says Ellis. 'Ideally you want to empower individuals to trade, and keep the proceeds of their trade. The UK has just lost that.'"

It's probably better understood as fascism, not corporate capitalism.

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Re: Probabliy better understood as...

"It's probably better understood as fascism, not corporate capitalism."

Not a lot of difference. Both boil down to "the strong take what they want; the weak take what they're given".

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Re: Probabliy better understood as...

As I recall my 20th Century history, corporate capitalism is a component of fascism, but fascism needs a few other things. It does seem to be adding up. The ECHR was constructed partly as a barrier to Fascism, so the way the government seems to be talking it up as a threat to freedom is a bit worrying. There are other signs.

We're on the road.

We can still turn back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probabliy better understood as...

It always amazes me the difference between replies to photographic copyright and music/movie copyright

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probabliy better understood as...

The difference tends to be you're talking about an individuals work that directly impacts them in some way to financially benefit a corporation. As this isn't about photographic rights, but all copyright (writing, indie bands, indie producers, blogs, vlogs, tweets, these comments... etc)

While in the other case an individual is downloading something they probably wouldn't buy anyway for personal enjoyment.

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Simple to

Simple to strip out identifying features of a hoot, claim you searched for info , couldn't find any so used it anyway.

A theft charter I think. Unless it impacts the luvvies brigade there will be no Leveson enquiry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probabliy better understood as...

"While in the other case an individual is downloading something they probably wouldn't buy anyway for personal enjoyment."

If they enjoy it why wouldn't they buy it? This "I wouldn't have bought it anyway" argument always comes up and it's always bollocks.

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Re: Probabliy better understood as...

"Corporate capitalism" is a contradiction in terms. What we have is not capitalism but corporatism -- sadly these thieves are branded as capi8utalissts when they are demonstrably not. Corporatism is tribal fascism and has nothing to do with capitalism.

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Unhappy

Re: Probabliy better understood as...

How exactly? The powers that be have reconstituted all the western political parties into 90% identical groups. There is a small amount of difference to make it look like there is choice but the basic underlying agenda is to allow their controlling status quo to carry on unhindered.

There is no legal democratic way to change anything now. Whomever you vote for, the 1%'s government always always gets in.

If you decide to fight for change then you are simply a 'terrorist'.

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Ready ? No, surprisingly

The one active register, PLUS, reckons they're still in development and asking for beta testers.

Almost like it was planned.....

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Theft

Looks like theft to me.

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Re: Theft

Same here, it appears that the UK is attempting to legalize actual copyright theft, i.e. claiming copyright for other peoples work.

However, does making a law in one country make it legal in any way in other countries?

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Re: Theft

Hmm, your TV doesn't have any meta data, saying it is yours, that'll be mine then...

I can see this as the beginning of a slippery slope.

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Re: Theft

Are there any tools being written that will update the metadata on images on your internet accounts?

I.e., automatically download, add metadata (both alongside the image, and embedded in the image via steganography and similar techniques), reupload to overwrite.

This metadata would contain ownership information, image licensing details, etc.

And which sites disallow overwriting images that have been uploaded, as they need to be avoided. Facebook is a bit of code away from being a massive source of "orphaned" images (no metadata, despite the fact they'll be connected to an account on their system).

Also, digital cameras need the capability to set owner information on all images at the point of capture.

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Re: Theft

I was thinking the same thing. Do you remember ASCII art? What about abstract ASCII art that is really just the contents of track 1 off of the 101 Dalmations Disney soundtrack?

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Re: Theft

Jpegs and other modern filetypes have the ability to hold metadata within them. It's just few people bother putting their details in them. Of course it's just as easy to wipe it too...

Any decent graphic file viewer will allow you to edit/read this data.

Irfranview is one golden oldie freebie that's been available for years for example.

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Re: Theft

Put your TV out on the kerb for all to see and yes, people might watch it and it would be difficult to charge for it. If they deprive you of it, then they would be in trouble.

A brutal question would be whether we are a net importer or net exporter of such items.

I'm getting some popcorn and waiting for someone to reskin Windows and strip the titles from a Hollywood film.

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Linux

Re: Theft

You can't copy a TV just by looking at it.

On the other hand, my TV is limited in time and space. To get to it, you have to commit a common law crime of violence. In the process you will have to likely destroy more property and set off a nice alarm that will let the well armed neighbors know that some shenanigan is afoot.

I can copy "your precious intellectual property" just by browsing the website where you posted it for the entire world to see.

It's more like you dragged your most precious possessions to the local flea market and posted a sign saying "free stuff, take all you want". Then you get you kickers in a twist when stuff is actually taken.

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Re: Theft

Metadata can already record ownership details etc, and Pro / Semi-pro models can embed this information on the photos they capture. I've set my EOS 5d mkII to record my name as the copyright holder.

The problem is, that sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc strip all metadata. In theory you could download a photo from Flickr (for instance), and as it has no owner information attached use it with impunity, you just need to prove that you diligently searched for the owner, and how can that actually be proved?

What needs to happen, is for all major photo sharing sites, such as those listed above, to not strip metadata from photos.

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Anonymous Coward

Fine

Fine by me. As far as I'm concerned, anything I put upload to a public website I am throwing out there for free and I fully expect it to be copied, used in crappy power point slides or maybe even sold (though who'd want my crappy holiday snaps I don't know).

However, if I were a professional or even semi-professional photographer or a visual artist of any kind I would only upload low-res, watermarked images. It's not exactly like it's difficult to do a quick resize and paste a layer on top.

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Re: Fine

Good article, Andrew!

@AC - "FIne By Me"

True to a point, my friend, but you and the two click-wits who upvoted your comment are missing the subtleties of the issue.

Like most pros, I _do_ watermark my photography exactly as you suggested. However, when someone licences that work for use, say as part of the graphic design on a web site or in an online PDF or whatever, they clearly _don't_ use my picture with the watermark in place. End-use doesn't work like that.

As you've probably started realising... if someone then extracts the un-watermarked picture from the client's product, and removes the metadata (easily done by accident or deliberately), then the photographer's traceability is seriously compromised. The work is as good as orphan.

And in anticipation of any tards who might say 'you sold it once, so suck it up': in most cases, photographers need to sell a picture multiple times to earn a crust. Why? Because the big picture libraries have spent the last couple of decades driving the unit costs of photography down to chickenfeed.

Wonder if they'll benefit from this new legislation?

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Re: Fine

@Slumberingjournalist: " The work is as good as orphan."

Since there are no actual regulations nor any actual regulator in place yet, just a bit of legislation allowing the process of putting them in place to start, I think it is a bit early to make that claim. All the furore about this legislation seems a bit premature. Nobody is losing any rights to be fully rewarded for their work, this legislation simply allows works that have no identifiable owner to be used if the, yet to be created, regulator/licensing authority agrees that adequate attempts have been made to identify the owner.

The only real change is that countless existing works that have no identifiable owner can now be used, rather than wasting away in repositories where nobody will ever see them - isn't that a good thing?

Even if your work is 'accidentally on purpose' considered 'orphan' you do actually still retain the copyright to the work and can pursue the user for compensation or issue a take-down notice - may I repeat myself - you don't lose any rights with this legislation.

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Re: Fine

" this legislation simply allows works that have no identifiable owner to be used if the, yet to be created, regulator/licensing authority agrees that adequate attempts have been made to identify the owner."

But given how trivial it is to remove metadata or simply avoid ever having it, how can anyone prove that you didn't make adequate attempts? I can't think of any method even slightly effective against, say, a technically competent 15-year-old with a computer.

"Even if your work is 'accidentally on purpose' considered 'orphan' you do actually still retain the copyright to the work and can pursue the user for compensation or issue a take-down notice"

Well, as I say, there's not much chance of getting compensation as you won't be able to prove malice and if they've sold 10,000 copies of the image by the time you find them then not only will you not get compensated but you'll have 10,000 other people who think they own a legitimate copy and no way to tell a court any different.

It's a complete shambles of an idea and at the end of the day there was absolutely no need for it. I think one could make a reasonable case that this is a public-office corruption case waiting to happen.

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Re: Fine

Only if payment for use of a work must be made when/if that work is known to be owned, and the bill is retro-active to the first use.

No one (with any sense) would use a work for which they might, retroactively, have to pay $0.10/copy for the 3 million copies they made.

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Re: Fine

"Well, as I say, there's not much chance of getting compensation as you won't be able to prove malice and if they've sold 10,000 copies of the image by the time you find them then not only will you not get compensated but you'll have 10,000 other people who think they own a legitimate copy and no way to tell a court any different."

But who would *buy* an image if it is as ridiculously easy to steal it as you seem to believe? This resaler -from-hell scenario would seem to be an unlikely development.

I'm just a little confused as to what the photographers want done about the situation. As another commentator has said, putting stuff on the internet is handing it out free.

It occurs to me that one might use the same technique as used by encyclopedias - that of adding artifacts to the image that act in place of a signature. Kind of like what Cuneo used to do with the mouse, only in a way that is completely transparent to someone viewing the picture for its own sake (rather than trying to find the signature).

Metadata in a picture can be lost by the simple act of CTRL-PRINTSCREEN, and a determined thief would have far more sophisticated methods at his or her disposal, seems to me.

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Re: Fine

"Adequate Attempts" for numpty users probably won't even include looking at metadata.

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Re: Fine

It may be too early to make the claim that, with metadata removed, the work is as good as orphan – but it is definitely not too early to make people aware that that could happen.

However, I suspect that this aspect of the legislation under discussion is ‘merely’ to make common practice legal…

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Re: Fine

>And in anticipation of any [free]tards who might say 'you sold it once, so suck it up' [...]

Nice strawman you've got there, but it isn't the case.

Most of those people who take issue with the bloated, tumour-like nature of modern copyright (referred to by yourself as "tards") are opposed to people making money from other's works. Believe it or not there's common ground here, provided you're prepared to look past divisive, ignorant labelling and unthinking sloganeering.

This new legislation does the reverse of what those wanting a more leaner, fairer copyright regime - it allows the powerful and rich to hoover up other people's copyrighted works and exploit them for profit. Of course, being rich and powerful, all they had to do is spend some of that money to gain the complicity of our useless, ignorant, self-interest-peddling politicians, to make their actual piracy (claiming other's works as their own property) legal and blessed by the state.

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Re: Fine

Now it's odd - you are quite correct and yet you have a lot of down votes....

Lesson 1 in life - Nobody wants to learn the truth if it will spoil a good knee-jerk reaction...

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@Slumberingjournalist

> As you've probably started realising... if someone then extracts the un-watermarked picture from the client's product, and removes the metadata (easily done by accident or deliberately), then the photographer's traceability is seriously compromised. The work is as good as orphan.

Use a reverse image search tool, such as Tineye or Google Images (click the camera icon there) - both are surprisingly good at matching images, even when they have been cropped and recoloured.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

Ah, you don't understand how to protect IP.

That explains everything.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

No no no Eadon. This is not about protecting us from using orphaned works its about entities being able to claim OWNERSHIP of works they did not create. Then follows use of lawyers and extortion against others who use the same orphaned works, possibly attacking even the original creators of the work.

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

"Ah, you don't understand how to protect IP."

Amongst many other things.

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

I was half expecting some Windows-Hate at the end of that post.

I'm not sure if I should be disappointed, surprised, or (if I hadn't actually read your post, Eadon) mildly impressed.

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

@AC 10:15: " its about entities being able to claim OWNERSHIP of works they did not create"

No it is not, I suggest you actually read the text of the act. It allows entities to ACT as if they owned the work, the original owner, even if unidentified, still retains actual ownership and if they were to come forward I'm sure there will be a mechanism put in place for compensating them when the regulations are eventually created.

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

re: Badvok. Probably, but don't (if you're a creator) hold your breath.

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

I'd like to agree with Eadon-- I do agree copyright is far too long and there does need to be a better means for returning actual orphaned works to the public domain (I am thinking for example of 1980's era games)-- but a law that only applies to photographs and requires you to be a large corporation to achieve the protection to use orphaned works clearly is something else. My take is that our social networking overlords got unhappy about being sued for reappropriating their users' pictures for the purposes of advertising (unless someone wants to fill me in and explain that this doesn't cover rights over personal image and likeness).

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

Eadon, must you be so willfully ignorant about EVERYTHING?

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

I hate feeding trolls, but...

Trademark: Usually designated by the symbol: TM. Otherwise known in industry to really be an abbreviation for "Totally Meaningless". Now Registered Trade Mark, well that's something else entirely which is why it has a different symbol: ®. Registered Trade Marks are meaningful and are worth something.

I have the copyright on a very large number of works. In fact, until now(ish), it includes absolutely everything that I have produced for myself and not for somebody else.

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Re: IP profits lawyers and extortion style law suits

"There's nothing wrong with having less risk of being sued. If you care about your IP you can still protect it. This prevents submarine lawyer attacks - always a good thing."

An individual using it? meh, I can't quantify a loss, I move on. Fox News using it and making money off it? I want my cut. Its that simple. What this law does is remove your ability to take your cut. Fox gets richer off you.

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"Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

No. Because I'm not an idiot. My stuff is on my systems.

But thanks for asking.

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Re: "No. Because I'm not an idiot."

You are a bit up yourself though.

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@sabroni (was: Re: "No. Because I'm not an idiot.")

I prefer "to the point". I make a living at it. Your mileage may vary.

Carry on.

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Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

"My stuff is on my systems."

Out of interest, how much did that cost you?

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Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

"Out of interest, how much did that cost you?"

Well, you can buy a good quality 3TB hard drive for under £100. You can protect your 3TB of data with RAID for, say, under £500. Sounds a bargain to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

yes, I hear raid is fantastic against fire and theft.

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Headmaster

Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?"

Raid is not for backup. Backups are for backups. Raid can help with drive failure to some extent though.

However, you think Flickr backup your photos? That other more copyright protected options are not available? Wait one second while I go find somewhere less conspicuous and laugh my socks off...

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@S4qFBxkFFg (Re: "Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr?")

It doesn't cost much. See this thread:

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1800678

I forgot the 99 year lease on the Bryant Street colo ... I'm about a third of the way into it. At US$1.00/yr.

Could I start from scratch, today, 35 years on? Probably. My daughter's version is quite functional ;-)

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