The UK Digital Economy Bill will not only restrict access to the internet in the UK. It is also designed to allow media conglomerates to use creators’ work without prior permission or payment. The British Labour government, with the co-operation of the Conservative opposition, plans to rush this controversial bill into law before the forthcoming general election without any debate.
Despite the claims of the bill’s supporters, it will not benefit the UK creative economy. On the contrary it will cause untold damage to individual artists, while placing unprecedented power to make further undemocratic and repressive legislation in the hands of the unelected Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.
In particular Clause 43 of the bill will lead to the creation of so-called “orphan works”, which will allow anyone to use any photograph in ways neither envisioned nor approved of by the creators of the photograph. It will inevitably lead to legal disputes between photographers who have had their work distorted and users unaware of the legal traps contained within the legislation.
You can read a breakdown of what the DEB will do to photographers, amateur and professional, and image buyers, British or otherwise, at the Stop Clause 43 website. They also have a handsome and growing collection of viral images for you to distribute and fight the bill. Please go there, read the bad news, and spread the virals far and wide on websites and emails: it’s my birthday today, and it’s what I want.