Government response to petition ‘copyright reform’

I heard earlier this week that the government had officially responded to the petition to protect the intellectual property rights of photographers in the UK.  For those that aren’t aware the was an announcement in October 2009, to allow free and unhindered reproduction of photographs without payment or credit on non-commercial websites.

The petition submitted by Darren Hector goes on to say;

This is completely at odds with the Government’s stance on file sharing of other forms of intellectual property (films and music) and raises the prospect of crippling thousands of small businesses while protecting large corporate interests.

The proposal uses phrases like “It must be seen to benefit all parties, not some at the expense of others” and yet the Government’s proposal does exactly that. It takes the work of photographers who have invested time and money in creating work, and gives it to people who have no relationship with that work, for free.

Photographic businesses are already under severe strain and the proliferation of digital cameras gives the impression that creating professional quality imagery is easy. This will further devalue the work of professional photographers and destroy the photographic industry.

Basically the government has decided to revisit this proposal in 6 months stating that;

This petition was created in October 2009.  The policy as stated in this petition is not the current policy of this Government.  The Government recognises the concerns expressed, and believes that it will continue to be important to protect the interests of copyright-holders, while facilitating activities for consumers and other parties where appropriate and possible.

The Government is determined to ensure that our Intellectual Property framework meets the challenges and opportunities of the Digital Age. The framework consists of the rules and regulations covering how IP is created, used and protected in this country.

The Prime Minister has announced (4th November 2010) a review to identify barriers to growth within the IP framework, in order to create the best conditions for growth for both new and existing businesses. The six month review will particularly focus on how the IP system can be improved to help the new business models arising from the digital age.

I’ll be following this closely over the next 6-12 months but in the meantime, urge photographers to follow some basic copyright practices.  When posting online always do so with low resolution photographs, watermark if you can and if you use software such as Adobe’s Bridge, get into the habit of appending Metadata.  If you’d like any info on how to do any of these, just get in touch!

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