Friday, May 03, 2013

Stop The Legalised Theft of Copyrighted Works

UK Government Fast-Tracking New Orphan Works Bill

Hi Folks,

Well, I know I said that the next Blog would show some new artwork from Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall, but something has come up of such magnitude and importance that I am publishing this particular Blog post instead in lieu of the aforementioned one.

I guess by now, having read the above title and subtitle to this Blog you will be recalling my similar Blog posts around three years or so ago, when the US Senate tried to do the same thing by getting an Orphan Works Bill passed through the back door, so to speak.

Well a lot of UK folks didn’t think it applied to them back then and I said it did along with millions of other creative folks around the globe. Then when the US Bill was overturned, such was the opposition to it, I Blogged that the UK Government had decided to do the same kind of things themselves and again some folks were totally blasé about the all affair. Suddenly though, any reports of the UK Orphan Rights Bill disappeared - that is until now.

Yes, the UK Orphan Works Bill is back with a vengeance and the government are trying to sneak it in the back door once more, just like their American counterparts did.

This Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act effectively strips all ownership of creative works from the person creating them and puts them in the public domain. The thinly disguised act of theft hidden behind the sycophantic smiles of civil servants within the Intellectual Property Office means they simply don’t see copyright as a “right” any longer. Rather they see it as – to quote them – “a framework“ Obviously just something else to be toyed with and manipulated with at will.

The reality of the act that is now in operation actually means that all anyone needs to do is say they have done a “due diligence” search and they can use anyone’s work without asking the owner/creator of the work prior to exploiting it themselves.

Bear in mind a creative person may not wish others to exploit their work(s).

“The powers do not remove copyright for photographs or any other works subject to copyright”, says a spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills under whose banner this diabolic act has been written. This is typical government speak for I’m only telling a slight untruth.

What the person in question is omitting, with this statement is the fact that the powers DO remove the right of the copyright owner to decide whether or not they want to licence their work, negotiate the terms on which they may want to licence it, what the price of any such license would be, asserting any credit and discussing the moral rights. In other words most of the “acts ALREADY restricted by copyright”, the ones which are the “exclusive right” of the copyright owner (in the words of the Copyright Act), are now no longer in the hands of the copyright owner. They have been repealed and lie with anyone else wishing to exploit such works.

This is a typical government/corporate decision! We want to give the right to exploit any creative work (they continue to use the word Orphan) to our buddies in the corporate sectors, which whilst under the Berne Convention they simply cannot.

Does it then stand that we, creative folks are now allowed to start using logos implying we are affiliates of corporate entities such as Google, Instagram, etc?

I somehow doubt it and that’s only putting a logo on to a website or letterhead.

What we are seeing is an illegal grasping of ideas, and creative works by all and sundry, but more so for opportunistic big corporate business. A system is being set up by the super-rich-mentality of the new aristocracy AKA the UK government, who have been found out time and time again in recent years, regardless of party affiliation to be corrupt, in league with the bankers and corporate companies and with NO REGARD whatsoever to the people trying to earn a decent day’s living.

The Berne Convention was set up for a reason to stop this exact same type of exploitation by anyone other than the actual owner of the work from occurring, on a global scale. What they also neglect to mention is the cost of any litigation which WILL come to all creative people from this moment on, unless the act and thus the new legislation being sought to be put into action via the back door, is stopped, will be astronomical and totally untenable for anyone except the super rich to oversee.

In other words the opposite of what Robin Hood would do. Here we see the super rich being given carte blanche rights to steal whatever they see fit from the much poorer creative people that actually DO MORALLY OWN the rights to their creations.

This thinly disguised, cynical piece of legislation is being touted about under the pretext of Orphan Works.

Now for those unsure of what that means;

An Orphan Work is a piece of creative work, which someone may wish to exploit and which the person seeking to exploit it did not originate. Unsure if the work is still within the period of time that the copyright carries or whether indeed the owner of the said work(s) is still alive there needs to be a search to check this out. If not out of copyright the owner can still be approached in regard to whether a license to re-produce the work, book or whatever is a doable option. If there is no record of such an owner’s existence then the work can be used under a license sought through the Copyright, or Intellectual Property Office.

But that’s simply not good enough for the greedy politicians and their cronies! No they want to reverse this process, placing the emphasis on either keeping track of any infringements and then pursuing these in court every two minutes to stop such infringements – like that is going to happen in the real world were normal folks would never be able to afford to do this – or by having every single image or creative work entered on a registry at a cost – again untenable due to the cost of doing this for every single image and/or work in question.

This act is the most obscene and immoral thing to happen here in the UK in recent history and makes a mockery of the Berne Convention under which a creator has automatic copyright.

Canada has exactly the system I cite above.

This is how it works over there:

  • I see something I wish to exploit commercially.
  • I go to the Canadian Copyright Office.
  • I pay for a search and find out if I can use the said work or not.
The copyright owner neither has to obtain costly protection by registration (something no one has to under the Berne Convention) nor has to worry about costly court cases. The copyright is with the owner and the owness is on the perpetrator of the act of copyright infringement to pay the court costs and any damages incurred by the owner should any such infringement take place.

Below are some “further reading” links:

Please, please sign the petition below – just follow the simple instructions to do so:

Please, please also write to your local MPs to get them to abolish this immoral and obscene new piece of law. I realise this takes a little effort, but the government cannot be allowed to take this “Right” away from creative people.

If we don’t get this overturned then expect to see a total eradication of anything truly, uniquely creative being produced ever again. After all what is the use of producing something commercially if by law you are not the only person that can exploit it?!!

Next up, unless there is more to report on this travesty, is a promotional Blog on this year’s forthcoming comic convention out in Malta and an upcoming trip out there in a few weeks time to teach comic illustration.

Then I’ll run one for the new artwork from Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 3rd 2013

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