• A battle joined on behalf of photographers: "This is a civil action that arises under the laws of the United States and is designed to redress the most widespread, well-publicized, and uncompensated infringement of exclusive rights in images in the history of book and periodical publishing." So says the photographers' trade association The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), in its lawsuit filed in New York Federal Court yesterday. At issue are the thousands of images contained in books scanned and indexed for Google Books that Google does not own the rights to.
READ MORE at The Register
• A battle won on behalf of photographers: "Photographers cemented a spectacular victory by crushing the orphan works clause," commented Andrew Orlowski at "The Register," after the British House of Commons removed the controversial Clause 43 from the Digital Economy Bill. "Photographers united under the Stop43 campaign argued that the proposed legislation would bring to an end a photographer's control over his images," said the BJP.
READ MORE at The British Journal of Photography
(Thanks to Vlatko)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by David Ramos: "In fairness, there's a good case for allowing easier use of orphaned works. The chilling effects of over-expansive copyright protections make it hard for archivists and librarians to preserve older documents, and nearly impossible for historians to use materials that are any younger than the early 20th century.
"Prue Adler, of the American Library Association (ALA), gave a talk in which she described Cornell University's efforts to digitize part of their collection. Cornell spent $50,000 trying to obtain permission to digitize 343 monographs in their collection. They couldn't even find owners for 58% of those works.
"An historian who wants to quote, say, a letter from a soldier named 'Bob' from Chicago, or to show an image from a family photo album of some unknown immigrant family sometime in the 1920s, probably won't be able to get permission."
Featured Comment by Olivier Laurent, News Editor, British Journal of Photography: "David, in most cases, at least in the UK, photographers and their representative organisations are not against cultural institutions and non-profit organisations such as schools, libraries and museums using orphan works. In effect, these institutions would be using these 'orphan works' for non-commercial goals.
"The problem, they argued, was that the legislation proposed, with its general terms and lack of details, would have also allowed commercial entities to use orphan works to make a profit, without properly remunerating photographers. That's the main problem with this legislation. Photographers would have lost control over their images....
"However, the most important point, I would say, is that instead of trying to deal with the consequences of a problem (i.e. how can you use orphan works?) I believe, and I know a lot of photographers do so too, that the government should deal with the causes of the problem—the creation of orphan works in the first place. It's too easy, in today's world, for a photograph to become orphan (removing metadata is simple, and despite being a crime in some countries, it's rarely enforced). What photographers need are unalienable moral rights."
Featured Comment by latent_image: "From the point of view of a working photographer, the discussion about archivists and orphan works seems mighty esoteric. Sure, I hope the matter gets worked out in a reasonable way, but the needs of archivists are way down my list of concerns. What I care about is working my tail off for a year and emptying my bank account while I put together a photography book, only to have Google Books grab it, scan it, and put a big chunk of it online. (I've never digitized a photo and put it online.) That's what I care about, and I call it theft. So I am extremely pleased ASMP and other American and British photographer groups are tackling this issue."
Featured Comment by Matthew Brown: "The problem is that Fair Use is a defense, not an indemnity, and the letter of the law is very vague. You can still be sued even if you have an ironclad Fair Use defense, which makes it financially unfeasible to rely upon given U.S. rules which rarely award costs to the winning side.
"This is one of the ways in which the previous U.S. copyright regime was preferable; things only stayed in copyright if someone cared enough to renew them, which generally meant there was someone who could be contacted. It had plenty of other flaws, but it did not have an orphan works problem.
"A decent solution to the issue, I think, would be to have limits on recentness as proposed above (though I think you could easily extend that to thirty years or so; most of the problems are to do with works much older than that) and a requirement to place funds in escrow, at a rate equivalent to known creators and at least a statutory minimum rate of some kind.
"I think that would remove most of the temptation to use this as an excuse for piracy."