Image copyright - clause 68 could drop UK journalists in the shit

Six of America's largest bodies representing protection of image copyright have written an urgent communiqué to Vince Cable. It seems the proposed Clause 68, allowing the free usage of foreign images under one collective license in the UK, has ruffled a few feathers Stateside.

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On a totally different subject, the world darts championship final, comments on the YouTube video of Taylor walking away from Barney suggested that the English were arrogant bullies.  You don't say?

Reading what Vince Cable plans to introduce via Clause 68, in an attempt to free up image copyright for UK journalists on foreign pictures, it's no wonder that the world holds that perception.

Admittedly, when I first read the article, posted on UnicornCult, I started rubbing my hands. Knowing how time-consuming it can be to search and find relevant stock-free images to accompany articles, I thought Christmas had come again already.

Foreign image copyright could be a thing of the past

In essence, what Clause 68 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will permit is for UK journalists to snaffle any image posted online from beyond UK shores and use it in their articles. On the surface, that's brilliant news for UK journalists.

But just stop and think of the consequences, if you will. Whilst the letter written to Vince Cable rightly states how difficult it is already for image copyright owners to trace copies of their work that excludes alt tags and metadata, what could global media do in retaliation if we piss on their bonfire altogether?

There would be little the rest of the world could do if UK journalists had free reign on image copyright. That is, other than search and seek all UK-produced articles to see where their work ends up. And you have to ask, how productive would that be?

Clause 68 could jeopardise UK writers' entry into the largest global market

However, there are other sanctions global media could impose. Like issuing free license on any content - images or text - under copyright in the UK for use globally. And I would be extremely pissed off if someone got rich on the back of something I'd written.

Also, with Google Authorship being the next big stepping stone for writers, I would not want anything jeopardising my chances of achieving that accolade. With the world and his dog accepting US English as the global language, UK writers may already be facing an uphill battle in attaining Google Authorship.

Therefore, being tarred with the same brush as less scrupulous authors, tempted to plunder the world's pot of copyright protected images, is one less barrier I could do without. So I, for one, join US image copyright protectors and beseech Vince Cable to scrub Clause 68.

It may seem to Vince that he's doing UK journalists a favour by freeing up image copyright and ridding the unnecessary bureaucracy cited as the reason for the insertion of Clause 68. In reality, he's only reaffirming the global perception of Brits as being a law unto themselves.

Furthermore, he's imposing a barrier to entry of the largest single growth market during this global recession: freelance writing for t'Internet.  Following the extensive media marketing campaign last year, telling us how well-respected the .co.uk website address is, the last thing we need is for that to represent 'copyright omitted united kingdom'.  Think on, Vince.

Have Your Say:

  • Is freeing up global image copyright a good thing for UK writers?

  • Or are we fair-minded and ballsy enough to stand up and be counted and accept global image copyright like the rest of the world?

photo credit: marpete via photopin cc