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Photographic Copyright Law

Photo-organisation slams government plans to change copyright law.

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Phil & Juliet Jones

"This plan will erode the rights of photographers who rely on reorders and resales to earn a genuine and legitimate living." – Phil Jones CEO, The Societies (incl SWPP).

Press Release:

Phil Jones, The Societies’ CEO has hit back at government plans to change photographic copyright laws in the UK. Jones, whose photo-organisation has 7,000 members, described the proposals as ‘a potential nightmare scenario for photographers across the land’.

Under the scheme, which follows a report from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) individuals could be allowed free use of photographers’ images for non-commercial purposes. The report, instigated by Culture Minister David Lammy, is an attempt to adapt the Copyright Act 1988 for the digital age - but many believe its proposals go too far.

Said Jones: “We see no need at all for new legislation regarding copyright law.  Any removal or even dilution of protection conferred in copyright may well prove to be the thin end of the wedge. Photographers must be allowed to sell photographs. If not, then what can they sell? If the government is suggesting that people should be able to share their photos with friends then who is the final arbiter of that?  Who draws the line at numbers of ‘friends’? This proposal is ill-conceived. It will erode the rights of photographers who rely on reorders and resales to earn a genuine and legitimate living. Photographers can already make their own usage agreements with their clients. We don’t need the state meddling in those transaction arrangements. What next?  If a lady buys a Vivienne Westwood dress, will she be expected to share the design with everyone else?

Should we be expecting Coca Cola to reveal their recipe so we can all make it in the kitchen? Some may suggest that photographers can simply charge for their services, but the truth is photographers supply both services and products - and you cannot have an open-ended agreement to pay for a service and then just decide to take as much product as you want.

He added: “And there are further issues here too when we talk about sharing images on Facebook or other internet sites. Low-res images don’t print particularly well. A poorly printed image from a low-res file could have an extremely negative effect as it will ultimately reflect on the photographer. Low-res files will render fuzzy faces – and who is going to engage the services of a photographer if their perception was that he or she produced fuzzy pictures? We remain steadfast in our view that the law does not need to change and we are actively lobbying our MP Chris Ruane, who has always been very supportive of The Societies and our mission.

The British Journal of Photography has been proactively campaigning on the issue. Said editor Simon Bainbridge: “We’ve carried out extensive research on this and we’ve put in recommendations to the government committee. Additionally we have been alerting photo-organisations and photographers generally to take a stand.
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User_Removed 14 138 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2009 11:42AM
The government is just getting stupid... maybe they should actually talk to photographers before thinking up this stuff.
sandman 20 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2009 11:51AM

Quote:The government is just getting stupid... maybe they should actually talk to photographers before thinking up this stuff.

Just getting stupid? Hmm I think they've been stupid for a while.

There seems little logic the approach suggested unless it is applied across the board to creative artists' work. I look forward to being able to make free copies of music tracks and films from my 'friends' it will save me a fortune on CD, DVD and iTunes.

Why single photographers out? Oh that might be because they don't have the backing of multi-million pound corporations.
5 Nov 2009 12:28PM
I bet the music and film industries would kick up a massive stink if people were allowed to do this with music and films. It would effectively legalise file sharing. Why are photoghraphers being treated differently?
mattw 18 5.2k 10 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2009 1:08PM
If true, these proposals seem very worrying.

We will be allowed free use of music, films, computer software so long as it's 'non comersial'?
NickL 16 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2009 1:28PM
Is there any petition set up so that photographers en masse can express objection to these proposals? If there is a weight of voices behind what The Societies' and British Journal of Photography is telling the government then I can't see any way that could harm our case. Perhaps this is something one of these organisations could set up so that the message is consistent with their campaigns. I'd gladly support that, I'm sure many others would too.
5 Nov 2009 1:58PM
Yes there is, 10 Downing St petition here: Linky
User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway
5 Nov 2009 6:35PM
1,020 signatures as I type...
StuartAt 17 1.1k 8 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2009 6:51PM
Strangely still says 1020, despite my name being added to the list!
Britman 16 1.7k England
5 Nov 2009 7:26PM
but you guys forget, photographer are terrorists, pedos and criminals. So we have no rights.
Well that's how i think the loonies in power perceive use.
Steve_Atkins 15 60 United Kingdom
6 Nov 2009 2:09PM
Hoffy 17 262 16 England
8 Nov 2009 3:33PM

This is Britain gone mad again, any person can use my image, not while I breath.
colmar 15 42 35 Scotland
8 Nov 2009 6:21PM
This issue has to receive more front page coverage on epz and other areas within the interweb and in mainstream papers etc.... if more are aware then they can sign the petition of course the more the merrirer but still no guarantee to the abolition of these ludicrous plans, as other folks have said does this mean all products will be fair game to share between friends ! The usual double standards of these people never cease to amaze.... share share share but give me plenty to get my portcullis serviced !!

Foxfire 18 322 United Kingdom
14 Nov 2009 4:15AM
Not sure why so many of you are so objective to the new government rules, as so many of you enter photo competitions, where the Sponsors are basically taking liberties with the usage of the image, for a miserable little price and are effectively getting a Royalty Free licence for life.

Personally I strongly disagree with the Government Plan on changes to the Copyright law, as it takes even more rights away from the photographer. It is hard enough now trying to prevent people stealing your images, using them for personal reason, then manipulate them and then sell the manipulated image as their own work.

I doubt very much if the objections by a few official photographic associations is going to make any difference. The Government will implement the new law and that is that. They have done this with other this with accountancy rules. The highest associations objected, but alas they Government just forged ahead, regardless of the people wishes.

Democracy? has become a euphemism for dictatorship..

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