How to avoid falling foul of the ‘Instagram Act’.

There’s a lot of panic posts about the ‘Instagram Act’ appearing today –  The Register’s ‘All your pics belong to everyone now‘ headline being the most illustrative of the kneejerk reaction.

The stories are a response to the UK government passing an amendment to the Copyright Act which essentially states that ‘orphan works’ – works not associated with an owner – can be reproduced, or indeed used commercially – on condition that the person or company wishing to reproduce them has made a diligent effort to find the owner.

Your best defence against your images being used without your permission is what you should be doing to protect your image anyway – put your name on it, and if you upload it to a sharing service such as Flickr, Instagram, Facebook or Google Plus, make sure that the metadata and description includes your name and your statement of ownership.

Google image search includes the option of dragging and dropping an image into the search bar – this action is the absolute minimum a company attempting to establish the ownership of an image can do – if you want protect your image, make it easy for them to find you. That way if you find an entity using your image without permission, you can prove that the very minimum of effort will establish you as the owner. Which, again, you should be doing anyway. . .

ADDENDUM – Alex Hern (@alexhern) has written a balanced piece on the subject over at the New Statesman.

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7 Responses

  1. And when you sell an image, and the other party removes your metadata from that image, and puts a nice big version up on its website without a watermark, how do you stop that getting nicked and re-sold?

  2. Henry Rothwell says:

    This argument makes no difference – if your ownership is simple to establish – as it should be – then it is a straightforward case of copyright breach, as it was yesterday.

  3. Yeah, same as yesterday. Except now there’s legislation in place that says they can do that, and you have to spend time registering works centrally and fighting cases where people have use your image that has no data attached. Previously, while they could have done this, the law did no actively support them doing so.

    • Henry Rothwell says:

      No – in both cases it’s straightforward copyright breach and the law is against them. You *do not* have to centrally register your work if you do the minimum to establish ownership of your work. For a third party to strip out association and then sell the image as their own is as illegal today as it was yesterday.

  4. I think the minimum may be to ensure your Name is in the meta data as the author or copywriter of the work. Camera settings and software can do this. It might be an idea to ensure there’s an audit trail, but that would be there anyway if you post to flickr, deviant art, other sites etc..

    But you’re right.. This is a case of ensuring it’s easier for companies to steal your work and hurting the creative industry. I don’t understand the need to change UK copyright law.. what’s the justification?

  5. Paul Brock says:

    the Register article is awful, nice to see a bit of common sense. No need to register your works somewhere, but metadata is a good first step. The other thing is to encourage people using social networks, who upload something ‘cool’ they found, to include credit. An uphill struggle there I think… (though I think the social networks should do more on this)

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