stop confiscation of your property and Human Rights in the UK Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Much of what is written here is understandably difficult for those not familiar with copyright and the world that photographers inhabit. We have created this FAQ in order to make our proposal more approachable, and to answer criticism and objections. For ease of use we have divided this FAQ into sections:

This FAQ is being frequently updated and added to as our proposal evolves.

  • How do your proposals help the cultural heritage sector?
    • We propose the implementation of Gowers' recommendations on the digitisation of orphan works in order to preserve them
    • The NCA will create a straightforward means by which digitised orphans can be made available to the public, academics and scholars
    • In so doing it will provide the opportunity for creators to readopt and authenticate their orphans, which will greatly enhance their historical, scholarly, cultural and economic value
    • It will also provide a means by which cultural institutions might raise revenue through the licensing of works of known providence in their custody.
  • Is the NCA just for photographs?
    No. We envisage all suitable digital media being included, subject to the wishes of creators in those media and the specific ways in which those media are used.
  • Times are hard and budgets have been cut. Wouldn't the cultural heritage sector be financially better off with orphan works/extended collective licensing as provided for in DEB Clause 43 and continues to be advocated?
    Yes. Of course you can make more money by selling the property of others without their knowledge, and pocketing the proceeds.

    But that would be immoral and inequitable, wouldn't it? It would also be the death of the freelance professional creative - the very person who creates the majority of the most fluent and finely crafted artefacts that the cultural heritage sector archives, curates and studies. That would rather be like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, wouldn't it?

    Our proposal will not turn cultural orphan works into the economic goldmine apparently envisaged by Dame Lynne Brindley, British Library CEO and ex-KPMG consultant. However, it will provide a means of legitimately digitising them and making them available for study and research, a way of generating revenue from collections of "known" works, a way for orphans to become readopted or "de-orphaned" which will greatly enhance their historical, scholarly, cultural and economic value, and therefore increased revenue to cultural institutions from their increased stock of "known" works.

    While not providing everything the cultural heritage sector might wish for, we are confident that our proposal provides everything it practically needs. Stop43's cultural heritage sector members support this view.
  • Who should submit their creations to the National Cultural archive?
    Anyone. Public collections, commercial image libraries, sound libraries, individuals, small creative businesses, newspapers, amateurs, professionals, organisations that accept submissions from the public. All would have to agree to be bound by the NCA's technical and administrative requirements and Code of Conduct.
  • Is the NCA only for Orphan Works?
    No. It is for all works, both so-called orphan works and works for which the creators and rights holders are known and can be contacted.
  • What about existing projects such as ARROW, Europeana and others?
    ARROW and Europeana are EU-funded projects concerning themselves mostly with the cultural sector. Both were up and running while the Digital Economy Bill Clause 43 was being defined, and the IPO and Clause 43's advocates will obviously have known of them.

    They have not been regarded as a general solution to the so-called "orphan works problem" because as currently structured they require external funding and do not offer profitable access to the "goldmine of content" that orphan works are said to represent. If they did, there would be no need for the British Copyright Council's new "orphan works" initiative or the joint BBC/JISC/National Archives/British Library/BFI "Digital Public Space" initiative.

    Nonetheless they demonstrate the practicability of Stop43's National Cultural Archive concept. Eurpoeana is particularly interesting as it appears that it could be adapted to become the self-supporting general purpose economy-stimulating IP exchange we envisage.
  • What about the joint BBC/JISC/National Archives/British Library/BFI "Digital Public Space" initiative?
    This idea first surfaced on November 1st 2010 in a Guardian interview with Tony Ageh, Controller of Development for the BBC Archive project. As described by JISC it is intended to

    " with the largest barrier to mass digitisation, that of copyright. The DPS would be constructed as a secure, trusted space for high-quality content. Copyright material would be made freely available to the public, but access would be via authentication and delivered via universities, libraries, schools etc. and, if federated infrastructure develops suitably, to individuals. At the same time, the DPS would offer costed access to commercial users wishing to exploit the goldmine of content. The costs would be used to pay back the rights holders and sustain the DPS."

    Sound familiar? It does to us - it sounds remarkably similar to Stop43's National Cultural Archive proposal, first made public on the 18th May 2010. At first glance it looks like a great idea - until one realises that no explicit mention is made of orphan works, that it essentially amounts to a joint shopfront for the existing archives of large cultural institutions, and that it does nothing to stimulate one-to-one licensing between creators, rights holders and prospective users.

    In contrast, the NCA would be open to anyone to join provided they met the criteria, and as well as fulfilling the Digital Public Space's cultural rôle would develop into a new digital IP marketplace. To us the DPS looks to be a bit of a Trojan - a worthy-looking project created primarily to justify new Clause 43-like orphan works legislation. It would clearly require some form of Extended Collective Licensing in order to work.
  • Aren't Extended Collective Licensing schemes intended to make it simpler, easier and cheaper for the cultural sector to use copyright material?
    That's what their proponents claim. Unfortunately it doesn't always turn out that way, as Kevin Smith of Duke University points out. This clearly explains why it is rarely creators (except for those seeking to benefit from the work of others), but bureaucrats looking for their next job or funding for their organisations who back it.

    The National Cultural Archive concept avoids this problem.