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

IPO Propaganda, Continued

The IPO have published another blog entitled ‘UK copyright and orphan works: the facts’. Both this and their previous piece, ‘UK copyright: Accessing Orphan Works’ have attracted a lot of comment, all of it critical, but sadly the most recent comments submitted to them by Stop43 have not been posted. We’re republishing them here.

Update 10/08/2012: The IPO have now published this comment but are yet to publish the second one.
In a comment to the first blog piece we wrote:

‘There are many interesting orphan works, particularly in cultural institutions that at present cannot be displayed to the public or reproduced because the copyright owner cannot be found to ask their permission.’

I really must come back again on this point, because it implies that the librarians, archivists and curators concerned actually know which of their holdings are orphan and which are not, which in turn would imply that they had already made diligent searches and established what is parented, orphaned, or in the public domain.

If they had actually done this their lobbying papers and submissions to you would be full of accurate figures, not estimates that '30% - 70% of our works are orphan', and they would not be lobbying for ECL as a way of escaping the diligent search requirement because it would no longer be relevant to them.

Clearly they mostly haven't a clue, and are therefore risking breaking the law (in their eyes) by putting any work in their collections on display. The absurdity of such a position renders me speechless.

In reply to the second blog piece, we wrote:

IPO, we're all getting heartily sick of this performative charade, and of having to repeat our arguments and rebuttals time and again. You are paid to do this, we're not. We would much rather spend our time carrying out our primary function of creating copyright works, licensing them, paying tax on our income (much of it from overseas), and thereby helping to reduce the UK's structural deficit. I would have thought Messrs. Cameron, Osborne and Cable would wish to encourage and support us in this task rather than push legislation through Parliament that will weaken us severely.

Many photographers and their representatives made submissions to your Consultation on Copyright; many of them included detailed responses to your questions and included practical and in some cases irrefutable rebuttals of them, and suggestions of alternative ways of achieving your goals without damaging the interests of creators. These submissions include: (Sadly, the IPO have redacted everything from Jon's submission)

Stop43's submission includes a detailed description of an orphan works solution which would enable access to orphan works by the general public with minimal damage to creators' interests, which included clear benefits for creators and users, and which we believe is likely to pass the Berne 3-step test. It has entirely been ignored.

All of our points, observations, arguments, appeals and suggested alternatives appear to have fallen on deaf ears. It is not surprising that there has been a general collapse in trust by creators in the IPO, and that this collapse is no secret. I have personally informed IPO staff of it, and of the reasons for it. The APIPG Inquiry has certainly made Mr. Quilty and Mr. Alty aware of it.

Throughout our submission, Stop43 repeatedly state: 'Do not introduce any copyright exceptions, ECL or orphan works schemes in order to satisfy economic demands or solve ‘access and use problems’ which could be satisfied or solved by services provided by the Digital Rights Registry/Digital Copyright Exchange. Allow transactional markets (including fee-free transactions) and Cultural Use to solve the problems these measures are intended to address. The DCE must be given this chance before the Government resorts to breach of international and EU human rights and copyright law, and the wholesale weakening of the public’s human rights and copyrights.

Richard Hooper's recent report makes it very clear that a Copyright Hub scheme linked to the rapidly proliferating DCEs is eminently feasible and can be expected to solve or very substantially ameliorate almost all of the alleged problems your proposed OW, ECL and exceptions are intended to solve, while maintaining creators' rights and interests, and genuinely stimulating economic activity and growth.

You assert:

‘Many respondents to the consultation on copyright told us that it is often difficult to differentiate between commercial and non-commercial uses, for example, the sale of postcards by a museum to offset the cost of an exhibition’, and therefore ‘The proposed scheme will apply to both commercial and non-commercial use of orphan works', but that 'our proposed scheme allows commercial use while the EU draft Directive focuses on cultural use.'

How is it that the EU appears capable of making this distinction but the UK IPO is not? Stop43 advocates the Cultural Use of orphan works.

Remove these clauses from the ERRB NOW, and give Richard Hooper's recommendations a fair chance before you inflict severe and irreversible damage on one of the few industries in which the UK is a world leader.