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 to take notice of our concerns. For most of the last 4 months since the Bill was introduced it has looked unstoppable, even though it had to be stopped.
Thank you to every single photographer who wrote to MP's, spread the word, Twittered, blogged, emailed, viralled and argued in forums. Without you it would never have happened. We should all be proud of our community for safeguarding principles that few outside understand. This was never just a matter of money, but whose creative work photographs are, and the respect due to photographers.
S43 threatened all of this, and you beat it, with no more than passion for photography as a resource.
There are lessons to be learned, and for sure we will soon enough have to deal with other proposals for orphan licensing from the EC. Copyright reform is also on the cards. But crucially photographers have found their voice. Politicians now know that if they wish to legislate into our backyard, we are the people to ask first, not last, how best to do it.