Archive for February, 2012

She-Bop-A-Lula

February 20th, 2012
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The immensely talented and gorgeous Dede Millar* is putting on a photo exhibition in the West End next month.

I haven’t seen it yet but I will, and I urge you to go and see it too. Because it’s such a good idea, such a clever title, and for such a good cause.

Dede is a very old friend of mine. She may mix her metaphors from time to time (I’m still weeping with laughter about the carrot at the end of the tunnel) but when it comes to Smart and Savvy she has few equals. And what a fab name she’s come up with for this exhibition.

It’s a collection of photographs of great women singers taken by great women photographers, assembled under the great title of She-Bop-A-Lula. What’s not to like?

And the expo is in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity. Now I’m not a woman and I never have been but even I can spot a good idea for a good cause when I see one.

It deserves your support. It’s certainly getting mine. It starts on Wednesday March 7 at the Strand Gallery, 32 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6BP, which is in a wonderful secret part of Central London known as the Adelphi, a little wedge of land to the east of Charing Cross Station and south of The Strand.

You must hurry, because it’s only on for about three weeks — it closes on April 1st. And to cap it all, it’s FREE.

I guess I’ll see you there. Get more info from http://www.shebopalula.co.uk/ — and I have the sneaking feeling this won’t be the only time we’ll be hearing about She-Bop-A-Lula.

*You have my bank details, Deeds.

Whatever one may think about the UK Government, it cannot be faulted for its inclusive approach to pre-legislation consultation. fotoLibra, along with other parties interested or affected by changes in copyright legislation, has been offered the chance to comment on a working document of proposals to change the UK’s copyright system.

In fotoLibra’s case this directly affects our livelihood, and, by extension, not just the income but also the rights of our member photographers. We have to make our views known, whether or not we feel it will have any effect.

First, some practical considerations. The consultation document is over 50,000 words long, about the length of a novel, though not as pacily written. Then comes the consultation response form. This has 113 questions, each of which demands a full written response — no multiple choice options here.

So we can’t fault the process. We are being given every opportunity to have our voice heard, and in depth. My only quibble is my own indolence and my lifelong fear of exams. This looks like an exam paper to me. But I’ll have to buckle down to it.

If any fotoLibra members want points to be raised within the framework of the consultation document, we will be happy to include them in our response. It would be invidious of me to summarise the consultation here, so I’ll simply give you this link to it. I will be happy to include your opinions in our formal response, which we will have completed by March 14th.

Please send your responses to me by March 7th. They must contain the relevant question number from the Consultation response form. Here is a sample question from the form:

63. What do you consider the process and threshold for non-compliance should be? For example, should Government test compliance on a regular basis (say by following Ombudsman’s reports) or on an ad-hoc basis? What evidence would be appropriate to demonstrate non-compliance? Please give reasons for your response.

Any response without its relevant question number and any responses received after March 7th will not be included in our submission, and that includes comments on this blog. UK subjects only, please.

We get more questions about copyright from fotoLibra members than almost anything else, and we are no position to answer them definitively. Copyright law is complex and difficult to interpret without expensive legal assistance. Although lawyers and other people (such as us) may offer views on the meaning of the law, only the courts can set precedents through their judgements; and as we all know, the law means great expense. However well-meaning and fair-minded the new law intends to be, justice will go to those with the deepest pockets.

There’s no cloud without a silver lining. The pathetically low fees now being paid by picture buyers mean that few people are making enough money from their image sales to attract the attention of predatory lawyers. So for the time being this copyright law, such as it is or will be, probably may not be troubling us unduly.

When we become rich and successful, that’s when we can expect Mr Lionel Hutz to come calling.

The excellent Photo Archive News has today run a piece on a proposed piece of legislation which will affect any photographers who hope to take photographs in London’s Trafalgar Square or Parliament Square Garden and upload them to a picture library such as fotoLibra.

Here’s the relevant draft legislation from The Trafalgar Square Byelaws [2012]:

5.       Acts within the Square for which written permission is required

(1)       Unless acting in accordance with permission given in writing by the Mayor, or any person authorised by the Mayor under section 380 of the Act to give such permission, no person shall within the Square —

(p)  take photographs or film or make any other recordings of visual images for the purpose of or in connection with a business, trade, profession or employment or any activity carried on by a person or body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate;

Effectively this means it will be illegal to photograph Nelson’s Column without written permission.

This may be impossibly difficult to enforce, but nevertheless if it gets on to the statute books it will be the law. Should some pocket Hitler of a bureaucrat decide to get nasty, he will have The Law On His Side.

So it is in all our interests to prevent this baffling and unnecessary piece of legislation becoming word of law. It is hard to see who benefits from this proposed legislation. It is much easier to see another small erosion of the freedom of photographers.

The proposed byelaws have now been signed, which means they are well on their way to becoming law. There is still a faint chance they might listen to reason, because they say:

Any objection to the confirmation of the Byelaws may be made by letter addressed to Carl Schnackenberg, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH, or by email to: Carl.Schnackenberg@Culture.gsi.gov.uk.

Please write and tell Mr Schnackenberg how you feel. The deadline is February 29th.