Following the defeat of the Digital Economy Bill S43, BAPLA has moved to reassert its claimed role as leader of a "unique alliance" comprising "a number of leading industry bodies representing the vast majority of photographers, artists and photographic collections/agencies within the UK".
Statements on BAPLA's blog and in the BJP have been met with incredulity and anger by many of the tens of thousands of photographers whose direct action led to withdrawal of the Clause. A letter sent to politicians by BAPLA accepted S43 as a done deal and was cited as evidence of industry approval by Minister Timm's during the final Commons debate. This is a betrayal that photographers are now disinclined to overlook, and representative organisations are also coming under pressure to withdraw their support of BAPLA.
Editorial Photographers UK [EPUK] has now published an open letter to BAPLA that seeks to clarify matters. http://www.epuk.org/News/947/an-open-letter-to-bapla
S43 of the Digital Economy Bill was voted out of existence in the House of Commons at about 11pm Wednesday, with the brief announcement "The noes have it". The Clause, which threatened overly broad commercial orphan works usage rights and proposals for extended collective licensing that turned copyright on its head, was dropped by the Government in response to opposition pressure. The rest of the Bill survived.
This is a remarkable success for UK photographers, whose direct action and persistence is responsible for politicians being forced
A government amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, drops the controversial S43 that enables orphan and extended collective licensing.
At the Intellectual Property Office meeting on the 26th of February, a rather wonderful thing happened. All the attending organisations and representative bodies agreed with each other. If there was to be a means of licensing for orphan works within the Digital Economy Bill, then there was a need to restrain the creation of orphans by obliging publishers to attribute work, and a need for a duty of care toward metadata.
32 MP's = UK democracy in action
(so that's 614 who aren't there)
The Commons debate is now in progress and can be viewed at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=6263
The next few days will decide the future of UK photography for a generation. On Tuesday 6th April the forthcoming election date will be announced and the Digital Economy Bill will be debated in the House of Commons. Inevitably most of the heat will surround Clause 18 and its controversially tough measures against file-sharing and piracy. Almost unreported outside the photographic press and photography websites, Clause 43 achieves the opposite, substantially weakening copyright for photographers.
In what appears to be a small miracle of truly inept thievery, both the Labour party and the Conservative party have published the above Audi Quattro image on the eve of deciding the future of photographic copyright
As we have said all along, the Digital Economy Bill S43 is a stalking horse for commercial interests. Government has insisted it benignly seeks to facilitate the cultural health of the nation through liberating museums and galleries from the unreasonable shackles of existing copyright law. But S43 has the fingerprints of publisher lobbyists all over it.
Orphan usage has been left wide open to commercial exploitation, and Extended Collective Licensing can be implemented by any publisher the Secretary of State cares to approve. ECL turns copyright law inside out, placing all the costs and difficulties of preventing use on creators
Action on Authors Rights are a "grassroots group set up to campaign in the UK in support of authors’ rights." Their articles on the implications and dangers of the Digital Economy Bill are enviably clear and coherent. Although pitched at writers they are essential reading for photographers too.
The Action on Authors Rights Manifesto is equally clear and precisely highlights the grotesque deficiencies of the Digital Economy Bill:
Extended Collective Licensing, as enabled by S43 116B of the Digital Economy Bill, is perhaps the least understood aspect of the legislation. ECL enables publishers to establish a collective licensing society comprising contributors who work with the publisher. Payments for usage will then be made to the society, at a rate agreed with the society, and disbursed to its membership.
At face value this sounds good for all concerned. Publishers are able to assume a blanket permission to reproduce work, and can avoid the administrative duty of having to contact individuals and negotiate terms. They merely make a fixed fee payment to the society. For photographers it obviates the need to negotiate and invoice usage. Money will just fall through the letterbox without any effort having to be made. What could be better than that?
A reality check is necessary.