Threat to copyright

This was in the July edition of “Outdoor Photography” magazine.

“Changes to U K copyright law

If you follow OP on Facebook, you’re likely to have read about the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) legislation, but we’re keen to make everyone aware. The legislation includes changes to copyright law that could have significant consequences for anyone who shares their photographs online.

Prior to 26 April 2013, when the ERRA received royal assent, ownership of your work was automatic, and legally considered to be your property. In practice this means if someone exploited your work without permission you would be in your rights to go after them. The new legislation reverses this right. If the information identifying the owner is missing, making it a so-called orphan work, anyone can now, legally, use your copyrighted work for their own commercial or personal gain. They just need to demonstrate they have performed a due diligence search for the original owner. Most digital images online today, however, are orphans – the metadata is missing. This is usually because many online services, including Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, strip any metadata from uploaded images.

The new legislation has not yet been approved by the government, as the Intellectual Property Office is still in consultation with the industry on the proposed copyright changes. As we go to press, we have learned that the Royal Photographic Society, along with other members of the photographic industry and the British Copyright Council, has been invited to a meeting with Viscount Younger – who is responsible for steering the legislation through the final stages — on 10 June, where it will reiterate the need to protect the rights of photographers.

You can sign an e-petition, Stop Legalised Theft of Copyrighted Works, on the government website. If it reaches 100,000 signatures then it could be debated in the House of Commons. Visit