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Copyright infringements by MPs, taxation of interest on Payment Protection Insurance payouts, compulsory self-billing, the PLUS registry, finding a good copyright lawyer and ‘Stolen photographs: what to do?’ – Simon Crofts’ excellent article published right here on the EPUK web site.
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||1. Introduction to the ABCD of Copyright
This is The Photographers’ Guide to the 1988 Copyright Act – as amended by ‘The ABC of UK Photographic Copyright’ and now further amended to take in all the changes in copyright law that have occurred since that work was published in 1994.
`As amended’ is what is added to Acts of Parliament when sections have been changed. The ‘as amended’ bits are usually put in because the original Act has been found to have anomalies. In this case the anomalies that are being dealt with are the result of attempts to harmonise the law of copyright across all the states of the European Economic Area and elswhere in the world.
The first publication in 1989 was intended to be an `ABC’ of copyright for photographers but because it appeared soon after the Act became law and there was no way of knowing how the Act would affect photographers and their clients, it soon became obvious that it was an `AB’ without the `C’. The `ABC’ corrected this omission to a certain extent but harmonisation efforts throughout the European Union and European Economic Area changed some of the rules almost as soon as the publication was ready for press. This edition now brings the text fully up to date, even if we have yet to achieve the forecast A-Z of copyright for photographers.
The Committee on Photographic Copyright was formed in 1981 to represent the interests of photographers during the formulation of the new Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. The Committee was particularly concerned with the protection of photographers’ work.
Though the 1956 Copyright Act recognised photographs as artistic works, they were not protected to the same extent as other artistic works. Extensive lobbying by the Committee, its member Associations and several individual photographers resulted in the wholesale reform of the law on copyright in photographic works in the 1988 Act.
Having succeeded in achieving most of what was required, the Committee evolved into the British Photographers’ Liaison Committee which continues to represent the interests of all photographers.
Inevitably the 1988 Act threw up problems which only emerged as the Act matured. On August 1 1989, the day the Act came into force, the first problem thudded through many photographers’ letterboxes in the shape of a £1 coin attached to a document which should be returned, signed, to the advertising agency which had generated it. This agency had read the Act and intended to maintain the situation as it had been previously. A signature assigned copyright in everything done, in perpetuity, to that particular agency. Some signed it without thinking. Some returned the money with the contract with no comment. Some poured out a stream of invective. Some pocketed the money and threw the contract in the bin thereby storing up trouble for themselves. Some approached their professional associations who poured oil on troubled waters and sorted out the problem as well as they could under the circumstances.
‘New Technology’ meant very little when the Act was written and was dealt with in few words. Now, more than ever, it evolves from day to day, bringing with it problems of copyright management which the drafters of the 1988 Act could not foresee; hence the need for many of the changes. It is a function of the BPLC to monitor this kind of change, absorb as much information as possible and to recycle this to its members in an easily digestible form, thereby enabling both photographers and their clients to be aware of what is involved without coming to blows. It is hoped that with this publication the BPLC continues to fulfil its role as the industry professional practice body.
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