Photographers will next month meet the government amid industry fears that a new law represents a serious threat to copyright and potential 'exploitation' of images posted on the internet.

The news comes as – at the time of writing – more than 16,000 people sign a petition against the controversial Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which received Royal Assent last week.

The proposed law was vigorously opposed by many photographers including David Bailey before parliament gave it the green light on 25 April.

Campaigners have called for talks with the government in a bid to shape legislation before regulations come into force.

The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and the British Copyright Council (BCC) are among the bodies set to meet Viscount Younger of Leckie on 10 June.

Viscount Younger is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Intellectual Property.

Amateur Photographer understands that representatives from the British Institute of Professional Photography, the Association of Photographers and the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies are also due to attend the meeting.

Photographers’ biggest fear concerns the Act’s proposed treatment of ‘orphan works’, where a copyright owner cannot be identified or traced.

Campaigners have argued that, in many cases identifying metadata is often routinely removed before images are published online.

They warn that the controversial law would permit such works to be used without their permission and compensation for the rights holder.

The RPS points out that orphan works will be identified as such, once a
‘diligent’ search has been made to locate the copyright owner.

The Society said it wants to ‘ensure that all photographers
– amateur or professional – are not encumbered by the need to devote
significant time and resources to protect their work from exploitation
by others, when they could be creating new work’.

Andy Finney, who represents the RPS at the BCC, said: ‘The sheer speed with which any photographer can create images means that we are particularly exposed to changes in copyright law.

‘While the situation is unlikely to be as grave as some commentators believe, I am not yet convinced that the government fully understands the implications for photographers of their current agenda.

‘In addition, orphans should not be legislated without due attention being paid to moral rights and metadata, as they are interlinked.’

Stewart Gibson, legal adviser at The Bureau of Freelance Photographers, is among those voicing frustration that parliament has ‘ignored’ photographers’ objections.

He told Amateur Photographer: ‘In common with other photographic organisations, we are not happy with the way [the law] has been formulated.’

In a statement, released yesterday, the RPS pledged to ‘reiterate the need to protect the rights of photographers to exploit their work for their own benefit if they wish to do so’.

A collective licensing body, it explains, will grant licenses to those wanting to use orphan works, with the right to deduct an administration fee – though a ‘copyright holder may exclude the grant of licences by a licensing body’.

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  • Pete Oakley

    This government have no respect for anything!

  • Pete Watkins

    It’s disgusting, but what can you expect from a government who are victimising my disabled wife.

  • Worried of Scootland

    why can’t we have something similar to the USA’s simple system?

    Copy a load of image files to the copyright office and pay a fee.