Photographers’ copyright under threat by Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill?

Should you watermark your photos?

If you upload any of your photography anywhere – and we’re going to assume you do since you’re reading a photography website – you’ll no doubt have heard about the recent changes to UK law which could have a profound impact on every photographer.

The new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill has somehow managed to arrive without too much uproar from the photographic community – until now.

Amy Davies, of our testing team, takes a look at some of the issues around the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill that should be of particular concern to photographers.

Should you watermark your photos?

What it states is that anybody can use “orphan works” – or photographs and other artworks whose author isn’t obvious after a “diligent” search. Quite what constitutes a diligent search isn’t yet known, but, it sounds like something which could be pretty damn hard to prove either way in court.

If the metadata from your image has been stripped and somehow ended up floating about the internet without your name attached to it – then somebody could end up using that for commercial gain.

Let’s face it, the chances of an individual photographer having the time, energy or funds to chase after huge corporations is pretty slim – could this open the door for photographers to be ripped off, leaving the rest of us in less demand as “free” artwork becomes easily accessible.

Of course it’s also true that the vast majority of people may never know they’ve had work effectively stolen and used for this purpose, but the knock on effects for the rest of the industry could be pretty severe.

It would seem the best way to protect your photography is to attach a watermark – something which many photographers are against since it can distract the overall image, or to register the work as your own… something which costs time and money.

With the speed at which uploads are made to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and the like, it’s a pretty unrealistic scenario for the majority of ordinary photographers.

Although it’s been over 30 years since the government has done a U-turn on legislation such as this, the photographic community certainly isn’t taking this lying down.

A new e-petition attempting to force a rethink of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has so far garnered over 14,000 signatures (at the time of writing).

Who knows what the outcome of the petition will be, but if you care about your copyright, then we suggest you attach your name to the ever growing list.

We’ll keep you updated with any progress that’s made – but in the meantime, let us know what you think about the new legislation over on our Facebook page.

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