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'Stop Legalised Theft of Copyrighted Works' Government Response.

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The petition, signed by a number of Forumites to the British Government has reached nearly 29,000 signatures and the government has published a response........this is reassuring on a number of points and illuminating on many aspects of the law regarding the removal of metadata.

 

It is fairly long but I recommend a careful read. My own MP contacted Vince Cable  (the appropriate Minister of State) on my behalf with a number of my concerns, and I have been promised a personal response. Meanwhile this does answer a number of the major concerns.........I have made bold the type regarding the metadata issue and it seems that we have legal rights of which I was unaware.

 

The e-petition 'Stop Legalised Theft of Copyrighted Works' signed by you recently reached 27,880 signatures and a response has been made to it.

 

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: This petition appears to address a measure in the recent Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERR Act) concerning orphan works. In fact, the Act ensures that the work of photographers and illustrators cannot simply be taken by others through a number of strong protections for creators’ interests. Orphan works are copyright works (such as books, photographs, films and music) for which one or more of the copyright owners cannot be found. Without the permission of all the rights-holders these works can only be used lawfully to a very limited extent. There are millions of such works held in the nation’s museums, archives and libraries. With regard to the removal of data about the ownership of the copyright work (metadata), it is already a civil infringement under UK copyright law to knowingly and without authority strip metadata from a copyright work. If the infringer communicates the work to the public it may be a criminal offence. It may also be a criminal offence under the Fraud Act 2006 if the infringer claims to be the rights holder. The Government wants to enable these culturally and economically valuable works to be used while protecting the interests of the missing rights-holders. Section 77 of the ERR Act contains powers to allow the Secretary of State to appoint a body to license the use of orphan works. Any person wishing to use an orphan work will need to apply to the government-appointed authorising body for a licence. As part of that process they must undertake a diligent search for the rights-holder which will then be verified by the Government appointed independent authorising body. The absence or removal of metadata does not in itself make a work “orphan” or allow its use under the orphan works scheme. Only once the diligent search for the rights-holder has been verified by the authorising body and after the licence fee has been paid will a licence to use the orphan work be issued. Licences will be for specified purposes and subject to a licence fee which is payable up-front at a rate appropriate to the type of work and type of use. The licence fee will then be held for the missing rights-holder to claim. If the work is not genuinely orphan then the rights-holder should be found by the search. If the search is not properly diligent, no licence will be issued. The proposal for an orphan works scheme was the subject of a formal written consultation and extensive informal consultation with all stakeholders, including several representatives from photography organisations. There were a number of genuine concerns which have been addressed by various safeguards, such as the verification of the diligent search and the requirement for remuneration to be set aside. However, some media articles have contained a number of inaccuracies about the scheme. Under these powers copyright will continue to be automatic and there is no need to register a work in order for it to enjoy copyright protection. The powers do not allow any person simply to use a photograph or any other work if they cannot find the rights-holder. A Working Group has been set up by the industry-led Copyright Hub to consider the issue of metadata and try to obtain cross-industry agreement on ensuring that metadata is not removed from copyright works. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

 

So a certain amount of screaming and shouting can produce results.........however I add the caution that this is "A Response" nothing is yet finalised.....

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I got the email this morning too. Interesting that metadata stripping is already a civil offence and can become a criminal offence if misrepresented, in England and Wales at least.

 

Anyone fancy a class action or two? Or twelve? (TVFIC)

Edited by Russell Watkins

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As far as I'm aware, no-one has ever been taken to court for metadata stripping. It would be very hard to prove who did it as the images are passed around blogs and social media.

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I imagine you'd just sue on the infringement and the stripping would merely aggravate the damages. You wouldn't sue on it per se.

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Win! I was at the meeting with the Minister on Monday along with colleagues from BAPLA, BPPA, EPUK, Stop43, AoP, RPS and during the various interchanges we secured a statement from the Minstry man (not Viscount Younger, who actually got it slightly wrong and used the word 'illegal' when 'unlawful' was the correct term) which I intended to release for my MPA members/readers to have printed to show clients, or staff, or just to remind them of the position. However it's always a matter of waiting for an official release, as the man from the Ministry doesn't get quoted by name, he was there to advise Viscount Younger.

 

They have moved very fast to get this statement out as it is a result of our industry meeting with the Minister, that much is clear from the content (all agreed to make metadata removal the prime focus of our mission, as we were all fully aware that the scare stories about 'orphan works' are just that - scare stories and panic). I covered many of the errors or misconceptions in an article 'Keep Rights On' in the May issue of Master Photography, and this statement confirms what I wrote (about your copyright not being under threat at all). Before leaving I handed all concerned at the Minisrtry a copy of the article and a short written request on behalf of MPA for measures to be taken to ensure the preservation of metadata in all digital media files (photographic, art, audio, animation, film, text - the lot).

 

The ministry man said a bit more - that it would only become a criminal matter if intent to defraud (etc) could be proved, and also that if it did become a criminal matter, prosecution would depend on a prosecuting authority taking that action - and he did not think any existing body (Crown, police?) would prosecute. He implied that they would not understand the criminal nature of this unless it really was a big case, or that it would be low on priorities. And he basically said that the existing law covered all this. So Alex is quite right.

 

Of more interest was that Lord Younger mentioned the possibility of an industry Code of Conduct - basically, a self-regulated voluntary agreement probably signed up to by Google, Facebook, etc, and the news media stating that they would leave metadata fields intact. All present also agreed that this did not prevent newspapers keeping their sources a secret, as this could be waived by the copyright holder (via contract terms).

 

It does look as if some pressure will be put on software vendors - Adobe for example - to make metadata inclusion the default for certain process like Save for Web, rather than an option. At the moment it's an elective extra step to choose what metadata you preserve in such files, instead, it should be an elective step to choose which fields you strip out (though with the current Adobe method, once you have made your choice, it becomes a default until changed).

 

What matters I guess is that the key parts of the statement above can be issued or used on websites.

 

Quite strange that despite being at the meeting which led to this (I'm pretty sure of that, it's so close to the discussion which we had), I've not received a direct email or notification about this statement - nor as an editor! Or as a signatory to the petition.

Edited by David Kilpatrick
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As far as I'm aware, no-one has ever been taken to court for metadata stripping. It would be very hard to prove who did it as the images are passed around blogs and social media.

Not too hard to prove if the image leaves Alamy for a National Newspaper with the Alamy/'name' declaration in the © field of the IPTC info and appears in an Online edition (which can be acquired by simple 'drag and drop' method) with ALL of the Metadata removed.  Some publishers have now taken to leaving that part intact.

 

We owe David Kilpatrick a big thank-you for the time he has devoted to this - I signed up and gave my MP a bashing, but he has devoted considerable time and effort for all our sakes.

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I take it the licence fee that is paid, will be set by government, and will probably in no way reflect the actual cost a photographer would have charged for the licence?

Why the mad rush to get this act through parliament, nothing to do with the EU trying to protect photographers from exploitation is it?

 

"The UK measures are being rushed through before Europe-wide orphan works proposals are incorporated into UK law. The two differ in a very important way: Europe's orphan works legislation forbids commercial exploitation of private property - but the UK's doesn't."

src

 

Its all well the government saying stripping metadata is unlawful or illegal, but when they seem to then be saying no one would bother prosecuting if it happens, whats the point of it being unlawful, especially when you consider that many of the major sites out in the real world are stripping metadata then how does that help anyone?

 

If its all so innocent, why cant they simply say the act only applies to the works they keep banging on about, ie old dusty works rotting away etc?

If its all so innocent, why does it apply to us, but NOT to them - ie specifically crown copyright etc is excluded from the act? Why is that?

 

Plus, when has anyone ever known a politcians lips to move with lies being produced?

 

Something just feels wrong to me..

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You take no such thing, as no collecting society which would set fees has been, or is about to be, established.
There is a lot of scaremongering which doesn't seem to take note of what the act can actually do. No identifiable artist can lose any rights at all.
In fact the act will only really apply to 'old dusty works' as the owner of any recent work will be discoverable by 'diligent search', and if anyone is worried about lawsuits from other countries, they won't seek this sort of licence anyway.
That article is inaccurate scaremongering.
Like it or not (I am assuming you are in the UK) we have a representative democracy and laws are proposed, debated and passed by politicians. You can't opt out.

Edited by spacecadet

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You take no such thing, as no collecting society which would set fees has been, or is about to be, established.

 

Can you explain then how and who will be settin the fee?

As a fee IS going to be collected and stored in case the original owner of the work claims said work.

Therefore it is clear to me, some fee must be set by someone - and as the original owner at this point is unknown, its clear that

the fee must be set by someone other than the owner of the work.

 

If as you are claiming, no one would be setting a rate for fees, then that would mean the worst case scenario - fees are made up

on the spot, surely thats even more open to abuse.

 

There is a lot of scaremongering which doesn't seem to take note of what the act can actually do. No identifiable artist can lose any rights at all.

 

But they already have.

The act itself takes away rights, before the act no work could be taken under any circumstances whilst in copyright [other than fair use etc], without the owners consent.

Now they can, all it takes if for the diligent search to fail, or for the diligent search to not be good enough (which I doubt in many cases it will be).

 

In fact the act will only really apply to 'old dusty works' as the owner of any recent work will be discoverable by 'diligent search', and if anyone is worried about lawsuits from other countries, they won't seek this sort of licence anyway.

 

Except thats not true, it is currently impossible to do a proper diligent search that WILL find the owner of ANY work on the internet for example.

Many will be found, but many will not.

 

 

 

 

That article is inaccurate scaremongering.

 

Which particular article, and which bit are inacurate, and why?

 

Like it or not (I am assuming you are in the UK) we have a representative democracy and laws are proposed, debated and passed by politicians. You can't opt out.

 

 

Funnily enough we are also subject to EU law, which has a better solution to this problem,. But our politicians (read lords/ladies/barons etc) were lobbied by the types of sites that strip works of metadata to pass this act. The timing of which was crucial they had to pass it before the fairer eu laws came into play, or they would not be able to steal work for their own profit.

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OK, time for another short report - questioned on the meaning of 'diligent', Viscount Younger and his colleagues gave the word 'exhaustive' as the meaning.

 

The good news is that the Copyright Hub will also be trying to sponsor, or find, a program which is far better than anything so far (TinEye, PicScout etc) to help in diligent searches.

 

Here is my advice: make small (Alamy preview size) compressed JPEG copies of all your archive, with embedded metadata. Create a directory on your website to host all these files. If necessary, use a program like Media Pro to create an ASCII text readable catalogue linking your filename to your copyright metadata - something searchable. Keep this directory up to date as desired. When the Copyright Hub is up and running, I'm fairly sure their solution will involve a submission-led web crawler, enabling you to submit such directories for indexing. Other engines like Google may also index such directories but you may have to invite them in.

 

Having a metadata-populated archive will protect your work in future. Alamy would in fact be excellent for this purpose - except that search engines appear to be kept out.

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Thank you, David.

 

About you most recent comment: "Having a metadata-populated archive will protect your work in future. Alamy would in fact be excellent for this purpose - except that search engines appear to be kept out.'

 

If Alamy would have more effective watermark and let search engines into database more freely, wouldn't that be win-win for Alamy and contributors/copyright holders?

 

Alamy is giving all a chance to post one question to CEO James West, by Monday, June 17, and I've been considering using that as mine:

 

http://www.alamy.com/Blog/contributor/archive/2013/06/10/5353.aspx

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