We have to take responsibility for our actions and our businesses. Once again, shields are raised and emotions are running high. The Orphan work bill has been resurrected.

In a nutshell, if passed, the Orphan Work bill would allow anyone to use a photograph, for free, after proving that a reasonable effort was made to find the copyright owner. In an earlier post, I had suggested that instead of making it free, those orphan images should be licensed properly and the money send to a central organisation that would use those funds to continue looking for the copyright owner.

At least, that way, people would continue to know that any image has to be licensed properly. Regardles of this proposition, this bill would be a good bill. For two main reasons:

– It would finally force photographers and agencies to properly credit their images with well filled IPTC fields. There are thousands of paying or free tools out there that allows anyone to enter its information. There is absolutely no reason why people continue to ignore it. Furthermore, a lot of agency website currently cut down the size of an image to display them as thumbnails, erasing all IPTC data in the process and thus creating an Orphan work. This has to stop. As content creators, artist, it is their duty to secure the information on copyright, not the buyers.

With the risk of having their images used for free, maybe, just maybe, they will pay more attention.

– It will create new technologies : there will be a whole new market to help find image copyright owner. an image search tool, for example, where you could upload a copy of the photograph you have in your possession and it will find all other usage of the same image, leading you hopefully to its legal owner.

Furthermore, other technologies will soon come available, like embedded watermarks or automated tagging directly build in the camera. It already exist in many pro cameras, but once again, no one really uses it.

It is a bit sad that this industry needs a kick to take seriously the matter of image ownership. But, fortunately, it will happen if the Orphan Works bill passes and that, my dear friends, would be a great thing.

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One Thought on “[Orphan work bill is good for you]

  1. crashtackle on April 24, 2008 at 2:40 am said:

    I find this logic rather disturbing. Why should it be up to me to protect my work from be used without my permission?

    If I own a washing machine should I register that or run the risk of someone coming over to my house and taking it from me.

    The work I produce is mine. Full stop. I did it, I own it.

    By law any use of my property without my permission constitutes theft. Intellectual and creative property is no different.

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