The Association of Photographers (AOP) has called on the Government to strengthen copyright laws or risk u2018suffocatingu2019 the growth of photographic businesses.

AOP logoThe Association of Photographers (AOP) has called on the Government to strengthen copyright laws or risk ?suffocating? the growth of photographic businesses.

The AOP’s demands are contained in evidence presented to the Government as part of the proposed review of Intellectual Property legislation, outlined by Prime Minister David Cameron last year.

Cameron hinted at a relaxation of copyright laws ?fit for the internet age?.

However, photography campaigners are concerned that the review will make it easier for online photos to be used by third parties without payment or the photographer?s consent.

?It is an economic necessity that creators? businesses are viable, sustainable and profitable,? said an AOP spokesman today.

The AOP has called for ‘mandatory’ copyright lessons to be taught in all schools and colleges.

It also wants sanctions imposed against people who ‘purposefully and knowingly strip metadata’ from image files to remove traces of ownership.

?Whilst there is not a great deal wrong with the current IP legislation in the UK, particularly in relation to copyright, the Association of Photographers believes that the existing legislation must now be strengthened to protect the rights of creators and to give simple, effective legal redress to those whose rights are infringed…

?The Association of Photographers feels that unless the rights of creators are secured and respected as a prerequisite, any growth and innovation will be suffocated.?

The AOP, which is based in London, also calls for a government-led campaign to educate the public about intellectual property rights.

The 43-year-old association says it has been involved in ’roundtable discussions’ with the team in charge of the review, which is led by Professor Ian Hargreaves.

The AOP has issued a list of 10 demands that include the introduction of ?a punitive element? into copyright legislation to deter infringements, particularly in the digital domain.? (see below)

A report on the review is due to be published in April.

The AOP’s membership consists of professional photographers, photographic assistants, agents and students.

It has hosted one of the UK’s most prestigious photography awards for the more than 30 years, and runs a two-floor gallery at Shoreditch in East London.

The Association of Photographers’ demands, as outlined by the AOP today, are as follows:

?  Equal bargaining power between commissioners/users and suppliers to be facilitated by a change in Unfair Contract Terms legislation to now include IP

?  The UK Government, and the bodies it wholly or partly funds, to set an example by accepting licenses and ending the current widespread practice that takes copyright by assignment and moral rights waivers, from creators

?  Moral Rights legislation to be strengthened to remove (i) the formal assertion requirement for the Attribution Right; (ii) exclusions for the Attribution and Integrity Rights; and (iii) the contractual ability of a waiver to prevent future ?orphan works?

                                   

?  The introduction of effective sanctions against those who purposefully and knowingly strip metadata (identifying data within the work) from photographs to remove traces to their ownership

?  Funding to be made available to aid research into stronger, universal software solutions to input, secure and maintain robust metadata for all types of digital image formats

?  Fewer exceptions to copyright legislation to ensure a better understanding of what is a legitimate use of copyright work

?  A punitive element be introduced into copyright legislation to deter infringements, particularly in the digital domain

? An effective and affordable legal remedy with easy access to be made available in the format of a small claims copyright court, where infringement has taken place

? Mandatory copyright education in schools and Further Education/Higher Education establishments

? A Government-led public-facing copyright and IP rights education campaign

  • Tim Motion

    As a long-time member of the AoP I emphatically endorse the Association’s positive stance against the gradual erosion of creators’ copyright enshrined in the 1988 Berne Copyright Convention. In essence, that the creator retains copyright in their works and has the Moral Right to be identified as the author of the works. Unfortunately theft of our work and the stripping of identifying metadata to form Orphan Works which can be used by anyone for free happens every minute of the day and night throughout the world. As professional photographers we try to earn a living. This is effectively destroyed by the theft of our ‘goods’. Amateur photographers, in fact anybody with a camera, should be aware that they should retain copyright in their ‘work’ and the right to be identified as the author, and that any ‘giving away free’ undermines the creative industry as a whole. There is much to be discussed further, but for the moment let’s let the government and ‘interested corporate entities’ know that the proposed changes are a very bad idea indeed, and we will oppose them vehemently.