‘Instagram Act’ Sees Law Change For Orphaned Works In UK

Despite several previous attempts to protect orphaned works from use without their owner’s permission, new legislation has recently been passed in UK parliament that will enable organisations to use photographic or any other creative works for commercial or non-commercial purposes and without their owners’ permission as long as a “diligent search” has been conducted beforehand.  The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, variations of which have been successfully opposed on previous occasions, will ensure that works where ownership cannot be readily traced are made available for use, in an effort to better support “the UK’s enterprise culture and help make it one of the best places to do business”.

To many the act represents a considerable erosion of existing copyright law and has raised serious concerns among many professional bodies.  The pressure group,Stop43 writes:

“Normal copyright law as agreed in international copyright treaties, to which the UK is signatory, grant copyright owners ‘the exclusive right of authorizing the reproduction of [their] works, in any manner or form.’Creators don’t have to apply for this right: it is theirs automatically and without formality. This means that unless the work is used under one of the narrowly-defined Fair Dealing exceptions to copyright allowed by these treaties, it is illegal to exploit a copyright work without the permission of its owner.  The EAA Act changes all that. Under its provisions it will be legal to exploit a copyright work – photograph, film, text, song, whatever – without the knowledge, permission, or payment to its owner.”

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