In the footsteps of the United States senate, the UK House of Lords is about to pass a law regarding Orphan Works. The UK law is very similar to the US one, besides a few key elements. Like the US, it is unclear what defines a reasonable search and how that will be proven. Unlike the US, it does call for the creation of a registry. However, it calls for the creation of a Middle man body that will collect funds ( unspecified also) for those images first though Orphan and finally reunited with its Parent. The UK government will also take a cut, leaving to the copyright owner… well …crumbles… Not sure why all these people have to get involved and get their cut, but they will. The trade association BAPLA who has more than 400 photo agencies as members ( take that PACA ) is actively trying to change and readjust this law. Unless if you do not license images in the UK ( why not ?), this law will affect you like a pie in the face.
In the same proposition there is also an anti paparazzi part. A rule “that in effect will prohibit photography in public places where anyone who’s in the photograph might be unhappy about being photographed.”. This law, of course, applies only to pro photographers, otherwise tourists would be prevented to take pictures, and that, my friends would not be good.
Not that most ever knew they were being photographed, but most of Cartier-Bresson subjects could have made his life a living hell with such a law, along with ours ( imagine a life with no CB images). Sure, everyone is tired of these hordes of photographers ( not sure if that is the right term, here) snapping a 35 mm lens in a celebrity’s face as soon as they walk out the door ( any door). Gets worse at night when it’s combine with powerful flashes. However, that provision is extreme and allows for incredible censorship. How will pros be able to take pictures of, let say, a terrorism attack? Most people will not be happy to be photographed in such an event.
In a time where rates are dropping, where photographers are begging for a Messiah, the UK Gov finds comfort in adding a couple of very strong nails in the coffin. The interesting part is that , once passed, these laws will affect you, in whatever country you are. Wether because your images could be used for free ( or pennies) or because your government will takes these legislation as a good example to implement in their territory. America, you have a sleeping ( not for long) Orphan Works legislation in the corridors of power. You might also get a similar anti pap law that will affect everyone. Should you look for help in tour favorite trade organization ? Be my guest. You should.
To learn more, please read this very good article.