The UK Coalition Government is already far from popular. It has blazed a trail of broken promises and forced austerity on hard working people, whilst allowing big business and corporations to continue making obscene profits. The bankers and money men who helped cause the financial crisis have not been punished. Now the governement’s latest wheeze has quickly been labelled the “Instagram Act” following the furore caused over who owned the copyright of images uploaded with Instagram last year. The formal title of this contentious legislation is actually The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which received Royal Assent last week. Anyone uploading images and other personal works to social media like Facebook and Twitter should be concerned. I think users of WordPress should be concerned too!
Here is the problem. If you dont carefully and accurately label your works, and here I mean photographs, drawings. paintings, poems, stories, diaries.memories et etc, there is a danger they could be considered “Orphan works” .Orphan works are works under copyright where the owner cannot be identified, or the copyright cannot be properly established. This may be because the author is dead, or because there is not enough ‘metadata’ attached to the work. This becomes a problem if your works are re-tweeted, re-blogged or passed all over Facebook, so that it is hard to track the original source. Work you may have thought to be your copyright may end up being used, printed, published totally without your knowledge or agreement and even be sold on for a profit – but at your expense! Now just imagine you have spent months nay years getting your first novel ready for publication. You send copies to a few critical friends…. and before you know it your work may be published by someone else…… and maybe even under a different name! If that scenario is too draconian for you here’s another one. You have spent months researching your historical novel, almost going blind spending days chained to a micro-fiche reader. You have some dymanite, totally unheard of facts and figures which you commit to a digital file on your laptop and you use these to write a small but punchy chapter for your book. You share this chapter online on a website you consider to be safe…. then find your work being used by another writer………..
Now you may well be happy with this, and for some I am sure it is not a problem. That said if you want to share your work yet preserve your copyright what can you do? Well with images, drawings and artwork you can simply place a washed out copyright warning on top, and you can easily create such in any imaging software. With text / written works you can follow the time-honoured method of displaying your copyright like this…. © 2013 Michael Sheridan with the year being the first year your work was published.
Frankly we should not have to worry about this, the old copyright law was clear enough. No, our hugely overpaid politicians want to interfere yet again in our daily lives and cause yet more unhappiness. There are local council elections in England tomorrow May 2nd. I think you can probably work out I wont be voting for Tories or Liberals. I am sure I will not be the only one……….
These are the copyrighted witterings of researcher and aspiring writer Michael Sheridan….
Extra reading on Copyright..