Copyright Under Attack – Again

30th January, 2013

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (ERRB), which is currently making its way through Parliament, contains proposed changes to copyright law which would have a seriously damaging effect on our ability to earn a living as photographers.

The proposals are much the same as those included in the Digital Economy Bill put forward at the tail end of the Labour government in 2010, and successfully defeated by a coalition of creators’ organisations – only worse. Stop43, one of the lead campaigning groups back then, has put together an excellent explanation of proposals, what’s wrong with them, and who to lobby. Every photographer who cares about what happens to their work should read it. The BJP also has a good piece on the opposition to the Bill.

For those already familiar with this battlefield, the four relevant clauses of the ERRB grant alarming powers to the Secretary of State, allow the commercial exploitation of Orphan Works, and authorise Extended Collective Licensing (ECL).

These changes will allow anyone to use your work without permission – in the case of Orphan Works without payment, and in the case of ECL for a payment decided by someone else! The details of these schemes are then to be sorted out in secondary legislation – that is, without any further parliamentary debate. This same procedure is also to be used to extend exceptions to copyright law – again, allowing the use of your photographs without permission or payment.

The ERRB has already passed through the House of Commons, and is currently at the Committee Stage in the House of Lords. There is still time to lobby your MP and the committee members considering the Bill. If you want to keep control of the photographs you make, take a moment to look at the Stop43 briefing.

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