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Government response to Hargreaves condemned by BPC

4 August 2011 - John Toner

The Government response to the Hargreaves Review ignores moral rights and leaves orphan works open to exploitation, says John Toner chair of the British Photographic Council.

The British Photographic Council is dismayed by the government’s response to the Hargreaves review of intellectual property law.

The policy decisions articulated in the response seem weighted in favour of big business and individual consumers, while the interests of creators have mostly been ignored.

The proposals for the licensing of orphan works would leave the door wide open to commercial exploitation, something that is resolutely opposed by photographers. It would be churlish, though, not to welcome the intention that the fee for such a licence should reflect commercial value. Nonetheless, we would much prefer licensing to be limited to non-commercial and clearly defined cultural use.

Of equal importance is our belief that such licensing should be conducted by organisations that are accountable to the authors.

Following the Hargreaves Review, the government response does not address the pressing issue of moral rights in UK law. The problem of orphan works cannot be resolved while authors lack an enforceable right to be identified.

The proposed Digital Copyright Exchange arouses our suspicion. Photographers require the right to know not only who is licensing their work but to whom their work is licensed, and to be able to refuse a licence to unsavoury publishers whose toxicity might damage the photographer’s reputation.

On the other hand, we welcome the commitment to a small claims track for IP cases in the County Court. We have been lobbying on this for a number of yars, and it should prove of considerable value to our members. The Government should be in no doubt, however, that such a court is absolutely essential for small businesses and we will work to remove any doubt from their minds

There is still much work to be done.

The Government Response to the Hargreaves Review (PDF)

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