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.


Add your comment


18 Responses to “Proposals to change the UK’s copyright system — make your voice heard”

  1. Eric Smith says:

    For Heavens sake, for approximately 96% of us it is a HOBBY !!!!!!!

    • Ann Parry says:

      1 – Please include statistics to support that.
      2 – Even if accurate (which would amaze me) what’s your point, as it relates to blog post?
      Thank you – Ann

      • Gwyn Headley says:

        Good question, Ann. The last survey we carried out on fotoLibra membership showed that 38.2% of our members were full time professional photographers. I don’t know where Eric gets his 96% from.
        Copyright should be a major concern for any contributor to a picture library or even a photo sharing site.

    • It might be a hobby for you Eric but if some person breaches my copyright I regard it as theft of my legally owned property.

      Indulge your hobby by all means but we professionals are entitled to protection surely.

  2. Hi Gwyn
    this problem is evident, but CEPIC oranisation is aware and this is a major EU project,reed
    Cepic News ,Jan 19th
    greeting Hans

  3. David Siddons says:

    If I buy a painting or a photograph I can display it on my business premises without having to obtain a licence to do so. However, if I buy a CD I can’t play it on my business premises without getting a licence. Both are works of art, so why the differentiation? It seems to me that if you buy any work of art, be it a picture, a photo, a CD whatever, you should be able to do what you want with it, provided that you don’t copy it and resell the copy, or charge people to come and look at it / listen to it.

    • Molly says:

      The playing of the CD is nothing to do with copyright. I falls under Performing Right, under the auspices of the Performing Right Society, which if memory serves me correctly, is a cosy club of high-earning ‘members’ who pay a fee to join. Unless you’re in a high-earning sector (not folk music, the area I used to be acquainted with) you probably won’t get your membership fee back from the performance of your music. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – it was a while ago.

  4. Mike Mumford says:

    1. Copyright law should be “common sense law”, that is fair to the common man or woman. Tying up an snap-shot image for 70 years after the author first shot it, is a commercial nonsense.
    1.2. Copyright should be commercially graded on the composition skills involved creating this original image and earning power.
    2.3. Copyright should be taxed on its commercial worth, a sliding scale, if this falls below £1000 per year it’s a copyright life span only lasts 10 years and so on. The higher its value to the commercial world, then the copyright is extended to the full limit.
    3.4. This way copyright earns a return to the owner and the taxman, society’s welfare get’s
    its social benefits.
    4.5. As you will all know the law is for the lawyers to take your money, to keep you financially out of pocket in a mind and body.

    • walter says:

      I fully agree with your comments. A common sense approach is needed.

    • Dean Jacobi-Reynolds says:

      Hi, with referance to point 1. I may be wrong but my understanding of the 70 year rule was that the ‘author’ had copyright for life plus 70 years after life. which meant that the copyright then fell to the kin of the ‘author’. Not 70 years after produceing the work as i understand from your point1.

      • Correct Dean, the image or whatever does not become common property until 70 years after the artist’s death, this enables a poor artist to at least give his heirs a chance to make a few bob from his hard work.

  5. Pete Gabriel says:

    As Ann and Gwyn say ERIC (or should we call you Victor Meldrew) would very much like to know where you get your % from.

  6. Peter Nahum says:

    Those organisations who lobby hard for more stringent copyright laws (the ones who get to take relatively high percentages out of the fee process) , as they have done in the art industry, do not do it for any other reason than to enrich their investors and to raise money to lobby even harder to make themselves more – this is a well known European scam blessed by governments.

    • J. says:


      Many of the proposed copyright laws being thrown around here and across the pacific are designed to allow websites to be closed down if an author “believes” copyright infringement has taken place.

      Guilty until proven innocent. Black is white. Up is down. Money is God.


    • You sir are talking nonsense, you are obviously not an artist. Copyright law is not a scam any more than the law of property, I doubt you work for nothing so why expect those of us who are artists to do so.

      • Peter Nahum says:

        I do not object to artist’s receiving copyright, nor their spouses/partners – in fact I applaud it. However, I do object to the percentage fees the agencies take. And I do object to these fees being passed onto the descendants for 70 years – it strangles trade and they should stand on their own feet like the rest of us.

  7. The problem with “copyright” has always been a problem. Where large companies book Photographers for printing and TV, many of them insist that the Photographer signs a contract to ‘hand over the copyright’ to them and pay only a fee for the time the photographer is doing the job. No repeat “copyright” payment. This happens a lot with companies/publishers who print books/magazines and somehow ‘forget’ to tell you how many copies have been published.
    It doesn’t help when ‘Amateurs’ send in photographs for “competitions” to WIN a small prize or even see their pictures in print. Photographic Magazines are one culprit of many?

  8. Mike Mumford says:

    Copyright seem to me just for the big firms and the corporate companies. Plus the original creator and his/her relatives have 70 years protection. I do not understand how museums and archives seem to have unlimited copyright. There is no moral or intellectual or artistic rights for someone just to own or sit-on hold old material after 70 years after the death of the originator?
    Surely, all material held my National Museums and Archives should be in the public domain? All this material should be FREELY available to publishers and commercial enterprise to re-generate new hybrid intellectual and artistic new works with each new copyright works or continuous new material e re-cycling knowledge for the common good of the public, and not with restrictive practices, lining the pockets of the few?