New Copyright Laws for Photographers

New Copyright Laws for Photographers

There has been growing concern among the photographic community over the recent announcement by the government that it is making significant changes to its copyright laws. To set photographers minds at ease the government have released a myth busting document titled “The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 –Your photos and you”.

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In particular the document addresses the concern that photographers will no longer receive automatic copyright on works posted online, and that any “orphaned” piece, an image that is not clearly marked for copyright, can be used without permission. Below is the myth busting document in full.

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Myth – the provisions remove the automatic right to copyright for owners of photos posted online

Fact – The powers do not remove copyright for photographs or any other works subject to copyright.

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Myth – anyone can use a photo they have found on the internet as an “orphan” if they cannot find the copyright owner after a search

Fact – A licence must be obtained to use a work as an “orphan”. This will require the applicant to undertake a diligent search, which will then need to be verified by the independent authorising body which the Government will appoint before a work can be used.

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Myth – works will have their metadata stripped and be licensed en masse as orphans under the Extended Collective Licensing provisions

Fact – the Orphan Works scheme and Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) are separate and the orphan works scheme is about licensing of individual works. .

The Government will have no power to impose ECL on a sector, and the safeguards included in the scheme mean that ECL is only likely to be an option where there is strong existing support for collective licensing. Any rights holder who is worried about how their work could be used under an ECL scheme will always retain the ability to opt out.

It is unlikely that ECL will be an option for photography where there is a strong tradition of direct licensing: there is no collecting society for photographers in the UK, so no application for an ECL is feasible at present.


Myth – anyone will be able to use my photos for free if they cannot find who owns them?

Fact – If a work is licensed following the verification of the diligent search, there will be a licence fee payable up-front for its use. The fee will be set at the going rate.


At Photoion we are watching these law changes and the public’s reaction to them very careful as copyright is a very serious issue, particularly for professional photographers. If you would like to learn more about photography have the best range of London Photography Courses available. Please click HERE for more information, or to book your place on one of our exclusive courses or photography workshops today.

By |2018-09-14T15:55:59+01:00May 30th, 2013|blog, News, Students' images|0 Comments