You’ll notice that I’ve made two changes over the past couple of days regarding copyright marking and my privacy settings here at Flickr. Firstly, all images which I post from now on will contain a visual copyright notice and a copyright definition in the (hidden) IPTC annotations. Secondly, no-one can download any of my photos in higher resolution any more.
The regrettable reason for this change isn’t due to an overpowering urge to begin earning money on my shots or cracking down on how generous I am in sharing stuff with you. It’s due to a new law being introduced in the U.K. called the Orphan Works Bill. The essence of this law is that any image found online which cannot clearly be identified as being owned by a particular author may be reproduced and re-used by anyone. Primarily, this action is being taken to allow media publishers to use photos found online for their own purposes, avoiding the costs of using a picture agency or staff photographer. One argument being put forward is that of the continuing economic difficulties being endured by many, and that their business should somehow be supported at the cost of a photographer.
Even more ridiculously and offensively, the proposal is that the media house who use a picture they have found online pay a fee to the government, in the event that the photographer spots the use of the image and demands compensation. If the photographer doesn’t spot it, then guess what? Yep, that’s right. The government keeps the cash.
More information about the Orphan Works Bill can be found here.