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Orphans and Street no more
February 25, 2010 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Changes to Orphan Works copyright legislation in the US began to crumble in 2008 when the NPPA and a grassroots initiative finally gained momentum. Still, the ASMP has a FAQ outlining their position on the 2008 Orphan Works bill stating that it is inevitable legislation and they should take advantage of a favourable congress to retain as positive a position for photographers as possible.

It seems that new laws are close to coming into effect in the UK government seemingly nationalising orphan works and in a separate action (same article) banning non-consentual photography making street photography essentially impossible. [via]

Previously
posted by michswiss (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, if it does end up law, I hope some opportunist uses it to criminalize all those damn CCTV cameras around the UK. Should make for entertaining Daily Mail headlines "Paedos want to take away the cop's cameras"
posted by NiteMayr at 7:20 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


More info on the bill itself.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:41 AM on February 25, 2010


Damn journalists won't support orphans.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2010


The orphan works legislation is a great example of creating a law where none is needed. Seems pretty simple that if you cannot receive the copyright holders permission to use their IP you simply shouldn't. I know that flys in the face of the "everything on the internets is free" contingent but too damn bad. This legislation, once passed, will become just another weapon for lawyers trying to justify their clients IP violations.
posted by photoslob at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2010


Eh, I think copyright and patent laws have gone too far in the direction of making it near impossible to create new software or art. I think this is a stupid law, but the idea that you have to have someone's permission to use their IP gets to be a bit selfish at some points. It's like people loose their common sense when it comes to copyright.

I feel this way about trademark as well. Artists have turned me off on so much of their art based on this need to control how their work is disseminated. I tend to side with them on their right to do so, but then think they are dicks when they do it.

But these issues have been hashed over on this site a lot. It always comes down to two camps. Those that think artists are silly for trying to control something they can't, and the people who think an artists is entitled to extract every single penny they can from a piece of artwork forever.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:52 AM on February 25, 2010


Photoslob, I disagree.

From the ASMP site:

Who is in favor of an Orphan Works law? How did this all get started?
Those who favor this law include libraries, museums, publishers, the Copyleft movement, individuals, documentarians, writers — almost everyone other than artists. They’re positioning their demands based on the idea of the “Public Good.” Our government tends to be more responsive to large entities crying out for Public Good than small commercial enterprises crying that they’ll lose money. Society sees a need for being able to use images whose authors cannot be found.

It isn't about using images without permission. If an artist is dead, and no ones holds the copyright, then those works should just vaporize? Absolutely not. There is such a thing as public good. Look at how it all started:

It all started with a huge collection of family photos from Holocaust victims that is stored in the basement of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Museum would like to use the photos for exhibits, but is afraid to because of the possibility they would be hammered with statutory damages and attorney’s fees.

How can you possibly argue with that? Photos to help tell a story that MUST be told, but they're not allowed out of fear of litigation? Photos that were taken by someone who was killed - certainly they don't need the money. But history needs their images.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:56 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Drastically shorten copyright terms. Problem solved.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:13 AM on February 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


Let's build another mighty dam in the middle of the ocean!
posted by squalor at 8:15 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


ChurchHatesTucker: "Drastically shorten copyright terms. Problem solved."

Or use Creative Commons and screw using the system entirely.
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 AM on February 25, 2010


Advocacy post. Weak.

--

The orphan works legislation is a great example of creating a law where none is needed.

Where none is needed? Really? So the vast majority of old work where determining ownership is impossible should just never be used?

If you're doing a documentary, say, about civil rights and you come across photos or film that you can't trace the copyright holder of. You should just... not use it? Stuff that was created

Your argument is that if material exists who's copyright holders can't be found no one should ever use it. It should simply sit, lost for time, for the 100+ years or whatever it's under copyright?

And of course, no one is going to keep copies of stuff they can't use, so a lot of less important stuff would, just... disappear. Forever.

But oh god forbid someone 20 years from now might use a copy of a photo you posted to flickr or something.
and in a separate action (same article) banning non-consentual photography making street photography essentially impossible.
Ew. And of course it won't apply to CCTV cameras.
posted by delmoi at 8:26 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The thing that caught me were the stressors between the needs to mine older materials for legitimate research, documentary and educational reasons versus the potential to undermine the copyrights of contemporary work. That and feeling that any street shot I take in the UK could soon be essentially illegal.

I'm new to these issues and recognise that the three primary links are to advocacy groups with divergent views. But, I'm also interested in learning more as I've started to become much, much more active as an amateur street and documentary photographer.
posted by michswiss at 8:52 AM on February 25, 2010


Drastically shorten copyright terms. Problem solved.

Excepr when you don't know who took it and when. You can make assumptions, but I imagine it'd get harder with digital copies, where you don't have physical aging and specific media to use in assumptions for document age.

It's odd that the article mentions "So Flickr, Google Images, personal websites, all of it will become commercial publishers' photolibrary." - have they not already seen Flickr images posted in news articles, with attribution accordingly? I don't know if those Flickr content creators give permission or not, but I've seen an increasing use of Flickr images on sites beyond Wikipedia.

And of course, no one is going to keep copies of stuff they can't use, so a lot of less important stuff would, just... disappear. Forever.

Except people are holding onto items from unknown authors. The Holocaust museum is holding onto those photos, even though they can't make them part of their exhibit. Perhaps they're holding out for a change in the laws (which appears to be happening, or at least things are leaning that way).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:59 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for the right to take photos in public places: I think that will be hard to enforce, especially in locations inundated by tourists from all over the world, ensuring that demands to stop taking photos won't be understood by all. And is London going to put up "no photos without permission" signs in multiple languages? Perhaps start providing hand-outs to visitors when they land in Heathrow? "Welcome to London, only take photos where we say you can"?

The article, advocacy though it was, noted that some of the original reason was to prevent professional paparazzi from hounding celebrities. If this happens, I can imagine the gossip rags start printing scandalous reports on politicians who passed this (or at least that's what I hope happens, it'd be lovely to see politicians treated as important people in our daily lives).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:04 AM on February 25, 2010


The problem is people's inability to contact copyright holders to seek permission. The solution is to require all content creators to ensure their creations contain their full contact information, guaranteed to remain accurate indefinitely. Enact heavy fines for changing address or dying.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2010


As for the right to take photos in public places: I think that will be hard to enforce, especially in locations inundated by tourists from all over the world, ensuring that demands to stop taking photos won't be understood by all. And is London going to put up "no photos without permission" signs in multiple languages? Perhaps start providing hand-outs to visitors when they land in Heathrow? "Welcome to London, only take photos where we say you can"?

Nope, they'll just arrest people. Or force them to delete the photos.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2010


The problem is people's inability to contact copyright holders to seek permission. The solution is to require all content creators to ensure their creations contain their full contact information, guaranteed to remain accurate indefinitely. Enact heavy fines for changing address or dying.

That, as I read it, is what copyrightaction are asking for - they want mandatory attribution on publication. On the face of it that seems to be a reasonable thing to me. It's just codifying best practice into law.

But as ChurchHatesTucker said, just shorten the copyright term, then we don't have to bother with all this ugly hacking.

God I hate Mandelson.
posted by Leon at 11:53 AM on February 25, 2010


Or use Creative Commons and screw using the system entirely.

Creative Commons depends on the framework of copyright and could not exist without it. Copyright is what enables artists and other creators to choose how their work is used, in what context, and in what circumstances whether that means making a living off of it or releasing it under CC licenses.
posted by bradbane at 6:05 PM on February 25, 2010


Creative Commons depends on the framework of copyright and could not exist without it.

And would not be needed without it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:13 PM on February 25, 2010


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