I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again and again and again and again…..
DO NOT MAKE IT EASY FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO USE YOUR PHOTOS!
COVER THEM WITH A WATERMARK…ONLY POST SMALL LOW RES COPIES ONLINE…NEVER GIVE YOUR WORK AWAY FOR FREE…GET YOUR INFO INTO THE EXIF DATA…PROTECT YOUR WORK
Would it be right for the farmer next door to spend all season planting, growing, nurturing, harvesting, and storing his wheat only to have the Wonder Bread company come along and take it all from him for free? What if they could just say “Hey! it was laying there and we didn’t know who’s it was so we just took it.” and that statement would make it legal.
Would it be right for Bobby Flay to cook up a fabulous burger and sit it down on a table outside one of his restaurants only to have someone walk by and eat it without paying for it? What if that person could say “It was just sitting here and it looked so good and there was no proof as to who made it so I ate it.” and that statement would make it legal.
What if you took an awesome photo of an F5 tornado passing by an old farm house in front of a beautiful sunset and you posted that photo online only to have CBS news come along and take that photo and call it their own. What if all they had to do was say it’s an orphan photo so we can have it for free and do whatever we want with it and that simple little statement would make it legal.
It would all be like a kid on the playground who found a lost action figure and said “finders keepers – losers weepers”.
It’s just not right.
But it would seem that the UK has passed a law, that is being called “the Instagram Act”, that in effect makes it legal for anyone to use an orphan photo for any reason. Like that tornado photo you posted online; if your information is not on that photo it is considered orphaned and there for up for grabs. CBS could take that photo, use it, sell it, call it their own; and it would be legal.
Now I’m no politician and I’m no lawyer and I’m no internet specialist so I don’t understand all the legalities of this law in the UK and how it affects little ol’ me out here in the middle of Kansas but I do know one thing. The web is global and if the law passed in the UK I’ll just bet it affects us all!
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Hey! I’ve put my information in the metadata embedded in that tornado photo so I’m going to be alright. CBS will just take a look, find my name, and pay me to use my work. That may not be the case. A lot of websites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and many others actually remove that metadata from the image when it is uploaded; essentially turning your awesome work into an orphaned image.
I’m not sure what options that leaves us as photographers, myself and others who work exclusively online especially, but I do know it’s just one more reason to keep on adding that ugly old watermark right smack dab in the middle of each and every photo posted online.
If you’d like to learn more about the “Instagram Act” read on; I’ve quoted a few internet sources below and included links to the original postings…
“…Photographers just took another hit in favor of corporations who may want to hijack your images for their own personal gain… the law allows anybody, any corporation, any entity wanting to use ANY photo, for ANY reason, to use that photo without first getting permission from the photographer….The norm across the Internet, it seems, is most websites strip ALL contact information/metadata out of the photo… When this information is removed, the photo now becomes known as an “orphaned work”…” ~Natural Exposures – Daniel J. Cox
“…the law authorizes the government to update the nation’s copyright law—a dull, bureaucratic move last week that wouldn’t have garnered much attention save for one thing: It may change the way photos are used on the Internet…The law’s real threat is to professional photographers whose work is widely copied and distributed across the Internet, often without their knowledge or permission…Artists can protect themselves if they can ensure that their works are never orphaned. Unfortunately, with the speed and ease of digital reproduction, that’s almost impossible to do…” ~Claire Suddath – Bloomberg BusinessWeek
“…it’s being called the “Instagram Act,” named after the widely publicized attempt by Instagram to do something similar thing last year…Before this act, ownership of your images was automatic…That’s all being brushed aside…“The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called “orphan works”, by placing the work into what’s known as “extended collective licensing” schemes. Since most digital images on the internet today are orphans – the metadata is missing or has been stripped by a large organisation – millions of photographs and illustrations are swept into such schemes. For the first time anywhere in the world, the Act will permit the widespread commercial exploitation of unidentified work – the user only needs to perform a “diligent search”. But since this is likely to come up with a blank, they can proceed with impunity. The Act states that a user of a work can act as if they are the owner of the work (which should be you) if they’re given permission to do so by the Secretary of State.The Act also fails to prohibit sub-licensing, meaning that once somebody has your work, they can wholesale it. This gives the green light to a new content-scraping industry, an industry that doesn’t have to pay the originator a penny. Such is the consequence of “rebalancing copyright”, in reality.” ~Thomas Ingersoll – FStoppers.com
“…The changes are enacted in the sprawling Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which received Royal Assent last week, and it marks a huge shift in power away from citizens and towards large US corporations…in most of the world today, ownership of your creation is automatic, and legally considered to be an individual’s property. That’s enshrined in the Berne Convention and other international treaties, where it’s considered to be a basic human right…The UK coalition government’s new law reverses this human right…The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called “orphan works”, by placing the work into what’s known as “extended collective licensing” schemes. Since most digital images on the internet today are orphans – the metadata is missing or has been stripped by a large organisation – millions of photographs and illustrations are swept into such schemes…what happens next is not clear, because the Act is merely enabling legislation – the nitty gritty will come in the form of statutory instruments, to be tabled later in the year. Parliament has not voted down a statutory instrument since 1979, so the political process is probably now a formality….” ~ Andrew Orlowski – The Register
***Note to Wonder Bread, Bobby Flay, and CBS…. please don’t think I’m picking on you! Love ya all; I just used the first brands/names that jumped into my head to make a point!***