While the French are busy protesting about how many years it will take them to retire, the French Parliament is about to also pass a law governing orphan work.
Up to now, a publication could just slap the credit “DR” ( Droits Reserves: Right reserved) under an image and ignore any licensing fees. This worked well when those images were handouts send out by publicist for promotion. However, in the last few years, the practice has extended to any and all images where a credit was not immediately identifiable,regardless if a search for the copyright owner was done or not.
Since no legislation was in place, it became a common practice, some using it to avoid paying for any fees at all. Not so anymore. The law will define how and when DR can be used, as well as creating an organization whose role will be to monitor and collect licensing fees to redistribute to legitimate copyright holders. It will receive the money for usage when the copyright owner cannot be immediately found and will have up to 10 years to redistribute the funds to the owner. If never found, the money will then go to help a project involved in helping photography.
The Union des Photographes Professionels, the main union of independent photographers in France is 100 % behind the bill.
This bill could be a good example for the United States to follow while it still awaits a resolution on it’s own Orphan Work legislation.