The UK government is wrangling with the issue, and there has been resistance from photographers. The resistance, in many ways, is understandable, and to some degree justified.
Governments need to get the balance between economic growth and photographers rights, though. Whatever is decided can have a profound effect on photographers rights, and potential to make a living, as well as companies being able to make money.
But is the government’s announcement last week on ‘orphan rights’ appropriate? Orphan rights are copyrighted materials where the owner of which cannot be identified or traced.
The Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth report tackles the controversial issue of orphan works. A review of the 'Digital Copyright Exchange' has recommended that The UK Government should legalise the use of images where the copyright owner cannot be traced.
Understandably, there has been criticisms from the photographic community. The report doesn’t give much detail on how this can be run, and I would argue that it would be open for abuse. Businesses need to make money, but not at the expense of photographers.
And it isn’t just professional photographers that should be worried.
While the digital world has allowed people to interact and express themselves in ways never seen before. However, it has it’s downsides.
Companies and social networks are increasingly seeing the economic potential of photography and other creative works. For instance, Twitpic, a photo uploading service affiliated with social networking website Twitter, upset users by changing its terms and conditions to allow it to sell users photos without their permission or passing on any of the profit. Rightly or wrongly, it saw an opportunity, and took it.
Copyright of photography and other creative works is a contentious issue. The economic opportunity of whoever owns the copyright of creative works can potentially be big.