Orphan Works in the UK: Photographers standing against overreaching orphan works laws

When a page of history is worth a volume of logic–in the history of the UK’s Digital Economy Act, Google’s lobbyists did the same thing to the Brits that they tried to do to Americans (several times) in the form of a section to the Digital Economy Act (Section 43) that would have opened the doors to the rampant abuses that only Google could have afforded to litigate.   Visual artsts are the ones who are most affected by these laws, and they founded a campaign in the UK called “Stop43“, a reference to the bizarre section of the Digital Economy Act that would have handed Google all the free content they could steal.  Stop43 has a short recap of their history online that is well worth reading.  Then be sure to read the anti-copyright organizational handbook Winning the Web (funded by the Open Society Institute), and tell me if you still don’t believe that there is an orchestrated campaign in major economies to undermine artist rights.

Stop43 has an excellent series of posts demonstrating that the UK government is not able to introduce laws that undermine the human rights of artists:

The Human Rights Act 1998 restrains the Government from introducing legislation that is not compliant with human rights legislation, and indeed reading Section 6 it may be unlawful for civil servants even to draw up such legislation. When asked at a pre-consultation meeting on 23rd August 2011 attended by Stop43, among others, Matt Cope of the Intellectual Property Office confirmed that new UK legislation must be compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998.

It follows that any proposed legislation to enable the commercial use of orphan works or the extended collective licensing of copyright works, which is intended to result in a copyright holder in practice being ‘deprived of his possessions’ without his knowledge or consent (which Mr. Justice Arnold has judged to be the consequence for rightsholders of piracy of their copyright work) would breach Article 1 of the First Protocol of the Human Rights Act 1998.”

Notwithstanding the controversial report of the consultant to the UN Human Rights Council, Stop43 make an important point, and a point that American visual artists would do well to take note of in anticipation of the coming battle over orphan works–these laws violate the human rights of artists.

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See also Artist Rights are Human Rights

See also Unhand that Orphan