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DEB Update: Clause 43 Voted Down

by Naresh Sarwan on April 8, 2010

Last night (7th April), clause 43 of the controversial UK Digital Economy Bill (DEB) was voted down – although the wider bill was passed.  This aspect of the legislation related to so called ‘orphan works’ a term that refers to copyrighted materials whose owner cannot be identified or traced.  Opposition to clause 43 was lead by Stop43:

“‘The UK Government wanted to introduce a law to allow anyone to use your photographs commercially, or in ways you might not like, without asking first. They have failed.   ‘The way is now open for photographers and other creatives to present new thinking, enabling the legitimate use of our genuine orphan works for strictly defined non-commercial “cultural purposes” in a way that will satisfy the needs of the cultural sector, to prevent the future orphaning of our work and to redress defect in current copyright law.”

According to The Register, the recent controversial re-appropriation of images of UK Conservative opposition leader, David Cameron and the popular BBC drama: Ashes to Ashes, may have inadvertently played into the hands of those campaigning against clause43.  The BBC, one of the major organisations supporting Clause 43 was apparently furious that their images had been used without authorisation in exactly the manner that the bill would have legitimised:

“We should not forget that the BBC, as this blog says, is one of the main proponents of a Bill to allow use of other people’s images in ways they did not envisage without permission or payment, yet it is furious that without permission or payment someone has taken a BBC image and used it in a way that the BBC did not envisage.” [Read More]

As reported on, however, there are potential moves to introduce similar legislation in Europe:

“There are lessons to be learned, and for sure we will soon enough have to deal with other proposals for orphan licensing from the EC. Copyright reform is also on the cards. But crucially photographers have found their voice. Politicians now know that if they wish to legislate into our backyard, we are the people to ask first, not last, how best to do it.” [Read More]

More information on Clause 43 can be found here:

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