UK Government Suggest Using Copyrighted Material Without Permission

News Article - Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:22

By: Kerry Butters Category: Security

A modification to one of three Statutory Instruments (SI) in UK copyright law has suggested that photographer’s images should be allowed to be used in certain cases without the need to ask the creator for permission.

According to The Register , there are many issues with copyrighted works and how they are used thanks largely to the Hargreaves Review, which was designed to "simplify and modernise copyright "for the digital age"’. However, it seems that the review has come in for criticism as it allows "amateurish meddling to tie up the courts for years”.

It seems that under the amendment, images will be allowed to be used so long as they are ‘quoted’ even if the photographer hasn’t given permission.

These are markets the government hoped its soon-to-be-unveiled Copyright Hub would stimulate, making licensing as easy as a right-click. An SI can be used to make modifications to existing Acts, without the need for parliamentary debate, which in this case is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The amendment will add the word ‘quotation’ into the section 30 so that it reads "Criticism, review, quotation and news reporting” with regards to the use of images.

However, since there is no actual definition included as to what "quotation” means and in what capacity it can be used, it’s likely that it will need to be decided by the courts.

The proposed SI adds the following words:

"(1ZA) Copyright in a work is not infringed by the use of a quotation from the work (whether for criticism or review or otherwise) provided that— (a) the work has been made available to the public,

(b) the use of the quotation is fair dealing with the work,

(c) the extent of the quotation is no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used, and

(d) the quotation is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise).”

Potentially, this means that anyone will be able to use a photo so long as they include information about the source. Currently, images are often used in this manner, but only if they have been specifically marked for commercial reuse under Creative Commons licensing .

Both BAPLA, the trade association for picture agencies and photo libraries, and the British Copyright Council have written Parliament to express their concerns. These include the use of the SI to push through the policy which they say is being used as a "back door”.

BAPLA's Isabelle Doran told The Register: "Historically, the Criticism & Review Exception was introduced for the purposes of reporting a current event, provided there is sufficient accompanying acknowledgement and that the dealing was fair; the exception does not apply to photographs as it was argued that photographs contain a unique visual report of a person or an event, and therefore as photos are excluded it meant a newspaper could not use photos from rival newspapers and claim a fair dealing defence. We believe this successfully struck the right balance between the protection of the rights of the author and the wider public interest.

"The introduction of a substantially wider exception under 'quotation' which does not exempt photography potentially opens the door to greater exploitation both in print and online,” continued Doran, "especially by those that simply aggregate content either posting or linking to them and are not those developing the story."

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