New UK law has artists and social media users uneasy. The act would allow companies to use some images without the photographer's permission.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
Many photographers, amateur and professional, are fearful the act will enable their work to be exploited without credit, permission, or payment.
The UK government says the act streamlines copyright licensing for works of unknown authorship.
This alteration to copyright law was tagged into a larger act aimed at cutting through regulatory red tape. Under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act – which last week received Royal Assent after passing parliament – “orphan works,” or works with an unknown author, could be used commercially or non-commercially.
The act alters the standing copyright regulations around “orphan works” by allowing businesses to pay a fee to use them if they can’t find the author. (The agency that receives the fee has yet to be established.) Usually, you’d have to wait for the copyright to expire to use an orphan work.