back to article The UK's copyright landgrab: The FAQ

The UK has passed legislation to permit the mass use of copyright-protected material without the owner's permission. This applies to any copyrighted work - not just images - where identifying information is missing. The specifics aren't yet known - they'll come later in the year, in the form of secondary legislation called a " …


This topic is closed for new posts.
    1. Alexis Vallance

      Re: Live concerts

      "a) no one can object to their registered work being licensed at a fee set by a central body - even if they disapprove of the advert/political use it will promote."

      Copyright still belongs to the original owner though. This doesn't alter.

      b) a bootlegger can claim copyright to an unauthorised recording/photograph - and publish it. A digital search will always show no official original as they will be unregistered by the performers. Even an official recording of the same event will have a different audio/digital signature when compared to contemporary bootleg ones. What rights have the performers to effect a "take down"?

      By claiming copyright he would have to demonstrate due diligence in attempting to locate the original recording or photo.

      If you make a copy, or near copy, of someone else's recording, you will still have breached copyright. The only exception would be if the original owner could not be located and you could demonstrate due diligence in your efforts. I suspect this would only apply to very old recordings, not a rip of a JLS performance you've made.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Live concerts

        "If you make a copy, or near copy, of someone else's recording, you will still have breached copyright."

        The supposition was that a bootleg recording of a live concert is effectively an original work. Even a registered official recording of the same event will not have the same digital signature.

        The original El Reg article a couple of days ago was postulating that if a diligent search didn't find a registered owner then it was an "orphan". It then suggested that there was apparently nothing to stop someone else registering it as their own copyright.

        There are many live concerts in the UK which rely on current UK copyright law to prevent bootleg recordings appearing which may not do justice to their performances. These are not necessarily big names. They may be unable to prove, by sound alone, that something like an advert or a film is using material from one of their live performances - deemed an "orphan" or registered by a bootlegger.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Live concerts

        "Copyright still belongs to the original owner though. This doesn't alter."

        Copyright implies that you can choose who can use it for what purpose and at what price. It appears this new law removes both those sanctions by the owner if it is registered with a licensing body. If its judged an orphan work which then their belated redress is merely the standard fee charged by the body.

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I smell a version of Thatchers views on the Data Protection Act.

    Get this bo**ocks in and it will over ride the EU directive, which seems quite sensible relative to this.

    It's sneaky, underhand and undemocratic.

    Putting the details in a Statutory Instrument is very evocative of the Dark Lords way of doing "business."

    I suspect it will take many years to purge the IPO of this New Labor nonsense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I smell a version of Thatchers views on the Data Protection Act.

      You can't 'override' an EU directive without expecting the consequences.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I smell a version of Thatchers views on the Data Protection Act.

        "You can't 'override' an EU directive without expecting the consequences." .....that's right, it'll be a one off fine reflecting 1% annual turnover, and then you can carry on doing whatever you like. Something similar happend with a software company recently.

  2. Turtle

    Usng a work as ad-bait is commcercial use.

    "the EU has ratified an Orphan Works Directive which strictly outlawed commercial use."

    If "commercial use" does not include putting a work of any sort on a webpage to serve as ad-bait, that's a significant oversight.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. GregT

      Re: rights/privileges again

      The purpose of IP Rights (including copyright) is surely to encourage the sharing of creative works (be they photographs, art works, inventions, whatever) and the state granted protection privileges are a consideration for that. So to "maximise the public good" needs to take account of the very real possibility that people simply won't share stuff if they believe it's going to get ripped off.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: rights/privileges again

        "The purpose of IP Rights (including copyright) is surely to encourage the sharing of creative works"

        The exclusivity is there to encourage trade in something we value highly as a society. It's the trade, aka a healthy market, that provides the incentive for the dissemination. It encourages investment in the business of disseminating the stuff.

        Is a 1:1 exchange of an image "sharing" or is it "trade"?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. HelenaHandcart

      Re: rights/privileges again

      "Copyrights .... are a restriction of the public's natural right to make copies"

      There is no "natural right to make copies". There is, however, a natural right to ownership of the work you have created.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Opening up the floodgates ....

    IP is just one of several areas (energy policy is another) that have become hotbeds of activism.

    And astute hacktivism, Andrew, which is a whole new ball game which the establishment and status quo position stake-holders have no hope in defeating?

    And shared as a question there for others to disagree with?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Opening up the floodgates ....

      "And astute hacktivism, Andrew, which is a whole new ball game which the establishment and status quo position stake-holders have no hope in defeating?"

      Like UKIP?

      1. El Presidente
        Thumb Up

        Re: Opening up the floodgates ....

        @ Like UKIP?


  6. ukgnome Silver badge

    Bastard Ltd

    Does anyone fancy crowd funding this business and setting up a diligent search company?

    I foresee a lot of money in this venture

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

    I've heard this argument used many times but I've never seen any evidence in favour, only grand assertions.

    Google 'copyright as an enabler' and you get an opinion from the Publishers Association and a paper by Sobel in favour of DRM

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

      Rather than down voting why not provide some evidence for or against ?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

      I can only speak for my profession, not others. If I want to produce a series of pictures, excluding the outlay for equipment (purchase \ rental \ wear and tear, normally up to 40k a year) I have to stump up transport, insurance, accomodation costs and also keep my family fed and house while I am gone. So for me to go and do a shoot on say North Americas national parks, I might have to set aside 25-30k plus the equipment \ film etc. Now I can recoup that through print sales, stock sales and maybe a book. Now what incentive do I have to risk that outlay if someone can duplicate my work without permission or payment, harming my ability to recoup my costs let alone make a wage out of it.

      Now you might say theres no real value in the work because 'anyone' can take the shots (assuming they have years of training and experience, a shedload of gear and enough patience), they why the need to copy if they can do their own.

      I'm sure there are studies that show IP rights improve economies, and studies that show it harms them. Put 4 researchers in a room, ask for an opinion and get 12. All I can do is state how I would react, and making stealing my work easier means I'd not take the risk and do more event shooting (what I normally do anyway since that market turned crap). It's sodding ridiculous how many people think it's appropriate to take their cameras out in a gallery and shoot their own copy of a shot. Given how decent consumer cameras can be these days a shot like that of a 60x40 could easily be printed somewhere aroun 13x19 and go on someones wall. They put the shot on flickr and all of a sudden its orphaned and for sale elsewhere and theres sod all I can do.

      1. Al Jones

        Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

        That sounds like an argument in favour of creating a Copyright Registry. Proactively register the works that you want full commercial control over, otherwise you're making the same case that a candle maker arguing against widespread electrification would have made.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: 'Because copyright is an enabler for markets'

          That is true and works for that example (so some degree, I will cover a little later). However, copyright also protects the privacy of images and control over person likeness. Consider the use of images from a family shoot, escape via FB and is used without permission or a release. Publishing images to a registry would make them public, every so often I have to sign additional contracts to keep images private (i.e. no use in my own marketing etc), both companies and individuals have privacy concerns.

          Also there is a significant issue with volume. Creating a drug might take years, filing for protection of that is virtually inconsequential in time and money compared to the time taken to create it. As a photographer it's far from unusual to shoot hundreds of sale-able images a day (for event shoots anyway). This is why copyright is imbued at the point of creation and there is a system for registering for additional protection (the right to sue for punitive damages, not just damages). If I had to register every single image, it would take a lot of time and cost a lot of money, for something that just isn't necessary. The system right now works and is very simple, if you do not have permission you cannot use it. It really is that simple. no puppies have drowned because somebody couldn't use an image they didn't know the owner of. The motivation to dismiss the current system is based solely on the potential to save and make money, not any grand plan to liberate vault loads of world changing media. At the very least, if there are books or video or pictures out there that are old and untraceable, the going rate should be paid and placed into escrow in addition to a fee to an agency to attempt to track down the owners, bona vicantia style. The lack of that betrays the real underlying motivation, to steal other peoples work, relying on weaknesses (deliberate or unintentional) in media distribution on the internet. This simply isn't required, a system exists, improvements could be made but this is just another example of politicians being for sale to the highest bidder.

  8. Gogugogu

    International treaty vs national law

    If I am correct, an International treaty beats a national law.

    So, if I am not under UK jurisdiction but my work will be used in UK under the "unknown copyright holder" clause, there will be a a contradiction between the Berne Convention, which protects my rights, and this UK law.

    UK signed the Berne Convention.

    Does anyone know what will happen next ?

    1. Peladon

      Re: International treaty vs national law


      Ah, yes. The Berne convention. What will happen next? Maybe what happened already. And by already, I mean you might find US title 17 interesting. Or rather, Appendix K to US Title 17. Or rather, Section 2 of Appendix K of US Title 17. Or rather...

      Oh, bugger it (sorry - my inner dwarf (blush)). In essence, the US decided that, sure. They'd signed Berne. But, like, they were only _kidding_. Because under Title 17, Beren is declared 'not self-enabling under the laws and constitution of the United States'. Which roughly translates as 'if you have a copyright under Berne, but not a copyright from the US, yah, boo, sucks'. OK - not totally. The US recognises the _copyright_ - just not any right of that copyright holder to pursue statutory damages or attorney fees in any action. Which pretty much means that trying to pursue any case will probably bankrupt you.

      So being a signatory to Berne means - well, as much or as little as the signatory wants it to, it appears.

      From US Title 17, Appendix K:

      Sec. 2 · Declarations.

      The Congress makes the following declarations:

      (1) The Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed at Berne, Switzerland, on September 9, 1886, and all acts, protocols, and revisions thereto (hereafter in this Act referred to as the “Berne Convention”) are not self-executing under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

      (2) The obligations of the United States under the Berne Convention may be performed only pursuant to appropriate domestic law.

      (3) The amendments made by this Act, together with the law as it exists on the date of the enactment of this Act, satisfy the obligations of the United States in adhering to the Berne Convention and no further rights or interests shall be recognized or created for that purpose.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: International treaty vs national law

      'If I am correct, an International treaty beats a national law.'

      Treaties are enacted by Acts of Parliament. Under what passes for our constitution it is generally held that no Parliament can bind its successors, so a second Act could be passed to revoke the treaty. There's some disagreement over whether certain acts are 'entrenched' and cannot be simply overturned - the European Communities Act being the most commonly mentioned.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: International treaty vs national law

        "Under what passes for our constitution it is generally held that no Parliament can bind its successors"

        I think you are being rather over-cautious here.

        Under the prevailing laws of Nature, it is an indisputable fact that no institution can bind its successors, no matter what any rule book might say. As evidence, I cite *every* country that has ever overthrown a previous regime or gained independence from a colonial master.

        I suppose the contrast is being drawn with normal contracts, which can generally outlive the individuals who signed up to them as long as the institution they were part of continues to exist within the same legal system. There, however, it is the containing legal system that binds the successors, not the original players. The differences are so obvious that I'm surprised the "Parliament can't bind its successors" idea is treated with so much respect.

  9. Rampant Spaniel

    This is nothing more than Dave giving Rupert a reach around for his support in the election. The absolute biggest threat here is from newspapers and content scrapers. I really didn't expect them to manage to pass this due to the international repecussions, fool on me I guess. Time to add a few lines to the iptables and ensure everything has physical watermarks.

    There are a few, limited, decent examples for ophaned works laws. The concept isn't outrageous in some instances, its the fact that it will be abused for profit by companies. What they should do, if they really want access, is pay the going rate + say 25% to a 3rd party agency who attempt to track down the owner and hold the money. This was people who see genuine value in orphaned works can pay and get access and people who just see it as a way to not pay for something they otherwise would have to pay for, don't get access. If the orphaned work is so important, you pay for it, then somebody is incentivised to find you to pay you your share. The current proposals are a license to steal and nothing more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      How are you going to put a physical watermark on a decidedly non-physical thing?

      Also, how to they know what the 'going rate' is? Is it per cm^2 or per image?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: ?

        sorry, a visual as opposed to metadata mark.

        As for pricing, there is already an established method for pricing sales of images based of medium, quality \ image size, volume, exclusivity and resale rights. Thats how images are sold normally (there are other methods), if somebody wants to use an orphaned work they pay the same way they would for a normal work. You don't think we give work away for free right now do you ? ;-) If you are interested go check out getty's licensing info for an idea. I bet newspapers won't be half as interested when the have to pay the going rate.

  10. Andy Gates

    Don't see the problem.

    Things effectively in the public domain become legally in the public domain. Where's the evil?

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Don't see the problem.

      Whilst I agree with you to some point, the evil lies within those companies who are going to exploit this by stripping metadata and suchlike so that it's nigh on impossible to locate the author.

      There's also the argument that as a copyright holder, I've got the right to decide how and when my work is used, and who by. This quite effectively strips that.

      The bigger issue, for the country as a whole, though - is what are the international repercussions going to be? If, for example, we get whacked with a massive fine, it's you and me who've got to pay it. Not to mention what happens if we're unable to export our work as a result of trade-restrictions.

      I've also got a vague memory of a small island being told it could dis-regard all American copyright for a given period as a result of something the yanks had done. Might be mis-remembering, but if not, that could be quite harmful as well

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Don't see the problem.

      Define public domain?

      You may have a different definition than say GlaxoSKB or Warner :) A movie released in cinema and dvd puts it into the public domain right? A drug released to maket (along with its chemical formula) is released into the public domain. Please do attempt to copy the above publicly and report back on what happens ;)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually the governments all over the world should be reforming the patent laws rather than messing around with copyright laws! So companies can patent "rounder-corners" or "not operator" but citizens cannot secure their own work!

  12. IHateWearingATie

    Error on statutory instruments in the article...

    Constitutional experts frown on the use of statutory instruments where the substantive points should be in primary legislation - they do not frown on the use of statutory instruments per se.

    For example, a 'proper' use of them is a bit like ref data in code - things that need to change regularly are best put into a statutory instrument, like the amount paid for certain benefits, or the date of a recurring event. The idea is that you know these things need to change, and you don't want to go through all the phases of amending an Act and tie up acres of parliamentary time.

  13. Jim Lewis

    Case in point. Warner sued over use of Nyan Cat

    Why should the originators of what has become a valuable franchisable icon not be protected from being ripped off?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so, can I use this...?

    Found this handy little logo

    As far as I can tell there is no watermark or meta tag data on it, I pulled it off this website

    Do you think the would mind?

    1. PHPonSnails

      Re: so, can I use this...?

      That's clearly not an orphan work, as it's very recognisable and anyone who recognises it knows who owns it.

      Your comment, though, does illustrate one of the problems with this debate, which is that very many opponents of the Act obviously don't have a clue what an orphan work actually is.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hmm so...

    should copies of films start turning up online without credits.. etc.. then would they then be deemed legal copies?

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: hmm so...

      "should copies of films start turning up online without credits.. etc.. then would they then be deemed legal copies?"

      No, and this leads to a point that Andrew maybe doesn't push as much as he could.

      Orphan work legislation will very rarely have any effect on works owned by the "big guys" as anything with any major success is likely to be easily researched, so is still well protected.

      It's us "little guys" with our videos that aren't notable enough for an IMDB entry or a Wikipedia page that produce stuff that can't be traced.

      The big guys would have blocked the legislation if it reduced their protection rather than ours.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We want Big Tech to win Govt is saying and Big Tech tells us that you have to lose...

    I read the article but was unclear as to how will this work across international borders beyond the UK..?

    Is this really a lobbying test case by Big tech, one that will be followed up in the US next?

  17. Homer 1 Silver badge

    'We actually feel very “proprietorial” about our creations'

    Except these so-called "creations" are inescapably derivative, so I have to wonder what justification there is for claiming they have an exclusive "proprietor"?

  18. b 3

    because we're all greedy money grabbing mercenaries..

    "A bleak public domain consisting of amateur doodles and contributions from the occasional, big-hearted fool, would eclipse creative markets."

    pre-supposing that everyone who ever did anything did it for the money. believe it or not, there are artists out there who do things because they love what they do. everyone's gotta eat tho, fo sho.

  19. Tom 7 Silver badge

    The legal term for this, when applied to other property,

    is called theft.

  20. Zot

    Where does my software stand in this situation?

    It's just a piece of code, after all. Will I still be protected if someone simply wants to hack it and give away for free? Am I still allowed to protest and issue takedown notices?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google's new Image Search

    Hmm, is the timing of this and the introduction of Google's new Image Search a coincidence?

    Google's new image search hot-links the original full size image rather than referring a user to the original website. Probably only a matter of time before we see Google take the entire content of a page (less the ads) so that they can repackage it (with their own ads). All to impove the user's experience and security!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This means we can use bittorrent legally

    Just strip any meta data an ddeclare it orphan'ed

  23. PHPonSnails

    Q: Is there anything in which Andrew Orlowski's knee doesn't jerk towards copyright maximalism?

    A. No.

    Anyway, here's an alternative viewpoint. I can't be arsed to retype it all here. Feel free to rip it off if you want to.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok a few questions

    So when are these firestorms supposed to happen?

    When the USA hears about this they will be pissed and will threaten us with sanctions for violating the BERNE convention on copyright.

    I know right.

  25. Haku


    Does this mean that original creators of artworks etc. could end up in a situation where they're sued by 3rd party companies claiming copyright because they deem them to be orphaned works?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So - Is this technically a return to the practice of registering your copyright (if you think the product is worth it), just as you had to do before the 'automatic copyright' we have now? If that is the case, why is everyone up in arms about it? If you want the rights, register them. If you can't be bothered, either let other people use it, since you obviously see no intrinsic worth in it, or (more importantly) don't publish, especially not to places that strip the metadata.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019