New UK Copyright Laws Take Effect

Posted on 10/16/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

As of October 1, 2014 authorized legal entities in the UK will be able to collect payments for the use of your photographs even if you are not a member of the organization. This is known as Extended Collective Licensing (ECL).

The Ministry of Copyright, Cultural, Creators' Assets (MOCA) says, “This change in legislation (ELC) will affect all creators in the UK whether they have published their works or made these available via social media sites.” What is unclear is how anyone who finds a photo on the Internet is supposed to know if the creator is from the UK, or some other country in the world. Therefore, it would appear that all images that can be found in cyberspace are free game.

MOCA says, “Creators who are not happy with this arrangement will have the opportunity to opt out:

    a) all schemes prior to an ECL commencement or
    b) specific licenses which may or may not contain your work within 21 days from the published notice.”
Since option (a) has already passed, anyone who hasn’t opted out by now is opted in. With regard to option (b) it is unclear whether the 21 days is from the October 1st publication, or somehow information about each specific ELC license will be published and creators whose work may or may not be included are given the option of opting out.

ECL laws are designed specifically for mass use, where negotiating directly with individual copyright holders is not possible due to their sheer volume. Under ECL laws, collecting societies negotiate ECL agreements on behalf of their members, as well as non-members because ECL laws allow collecting societies to enter into ECL agreements on behalf of all rights owners of the category of rightsholder the collecting society represents.

In anticipation of these changes the Ministry of Copyright Cultural Creators’ Assets (MOCA) is capturing the views of businesses in the creative sector on how these exceptions to copyright will impact on their creative assets and more importantly, on their business, starting with the ECL Survey Phase 2 ( launched on 1st October 2014. Surveys will be collected till October 25, 2014.

This is a voluntary independent survey allowing all creators to express their views about what they expect of an Opt-Out procedure and how they think it may affect their businesses. All information gathered from this survey will be reported back to relevant parties such as rights holders, collecting societies and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The aim of the survey, says MOCA Director Linda Royles, is "to monitor the impact of fast track legislation on the creative industries in all sectors, and to sound any alarm bells where change is essential, within the next five years". 

Artists, and companies that represent their work, are invited to record their views on these changes now, and again in 12 months’ time.

For more information about this Intellectual Property reform see here and here.

As part of the original discussions that led to this legislation the UK Parliament funded a pilot project called the Copyright Hub that is designed to be a gateway to information about copyright in the UK and to enable those interested in using images they find to identify the copyright holder and determine where they need to license use of the copyrighted work.

While the Copyright Hub test site is still in operation, it appears that no acceptable system has been devised to fund the project long term. As a result, with the new ECL rules, it appears that little is being done to encourage potential users to try to identify the specific copyright holder and license use from that person directly and properly.

Additional Comments

Be sure to check our these additional comments that came in after this article was initially published.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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