U.K. Copyright law update part 2.

Yesterday I discussed the new changes in copyright laws in Great Britain.  Today, we are going to review how this change might affect your rights.

Although there is no such thing as an “international copyright” that automatically protects your work throughout the world.  There are more than 160 countries that have ratified a treaty intended to accomplish the equivalent of an “international copyright.”  Generally, if a work is protected in the U.S. it is protected in most countries because the U.S. is one of the signatories to the Berne Convention, copyright treaty, that is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, signed into law on April 25th, includes rules covering orphaned works.  An orphan work is a copyrighted work where the copyright owner cannot be contacted. Under the new Act it is feared that any unscrupulous person (ie. recited in many articles as greedy giant American corporations) will just not bother to find copyright owners and take their work.  Similar rules had already been removed from an earlier bill, in response to complaints from photographers, who interpreted it as a rights grab.

The current law is a framework that specifies what considerations the final regulations must cover, such as who can qualify as a license granting body and where the money raised from such licenses will go.

Viscount Younger of Leckie, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, has said there will be consultation to determine the fine details and that ‘the provision for orphan work licensing will be construed restrictively by the courts.’

The Royal Photographic Society and the British Copyright Council are among those meeting Viscount Younger in June to discuss these details.

So what does this mean for you?  Many in Britain have started referring to the Act as the ‘Instagram Act’ because of the laxness of the Act allows for abuse of  images posted to that social network, among others.

So if you are posting images to Instagram, Flickr, Facebook etc…, there is the potential that your work may be used commercially without your permission or compensation.  Under the Act, commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, are placed into what’s known as “extended collective licensing” schemes.  Because  most digital images on the internet today are orphans, the metadata is missing or has been stripped,  millions of photographs and illustrations may have been put into an extended collective licensing scheme without your knowledge.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help to protect your copyrighted work here or abroad, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +