"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).
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.”