UK Copyright Hub Clarifications

Posted on 6/21/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Last month we reported on the storm over the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) that was passed by the U.K. Parliament. Photographers were up in arms, but it turns out that many of the initial concerns may have been misplaced.

Fortunately, two of my readers – Gary Evans and Tim Harris - provided very detailed corrections to my article. If you read the article before the comments were written, please go back and read the comments.

One of the things we missed the first time around is that the Act simply allows new regulations to be written that add to, but do not take away from the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988. Those regulations are being written and it is expected they will be published around the end of the year. Before they become law they must be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

An important clarification is that the Copyright Hub is not expected to be licensing rights for any uses. Rather the Hub will simply be a central location that will link to hundreds of the image databases of libraries both in the UK and around the world. It will work like the hub of a wheel with the spokes being the links to each library. Individual libraries will be responsible for all licensing of the images in their collections. Users will be able to enter a search request through the single hub location and all connected databases will be automatically searched.

It seems likely that the Hub will also connect with the CEPIC Image Registry (CIR) that will perform the same type of function.

One problem is that many image creators do not want anyone else licensing rights to their image. Thus, they have not placed their work with stock agencies or libraries. The Copyright Hub will have no way of finding images of these creators unless they are in some type of searchable image database that can be linked to the Hub. These individuals may want to set up a searchable database for the sole purpose of linking to the Hub, Such a database could include the works of many creators, but the operator would have no right to license use to any of the images contained in the database. Anyone who finds an image by searching this database would be directed to the image creator. Trade associations could build such a database as a member service. It is possible that organizations like PhotoShelter could offer such a service.

One question is what happens when an image creator cannot be located through a Hub search. It is expected that the Hub will not be able to authorize use of such an image. At that point the organization that wants to use the image will need to decide if they want to take the risk of infringing copyright. Users of such “orphaned” images may be provided some legal protection in the event that the copyright holder later shows up if the user can prove that the image owner could not be found through a Hub search and the user had preformed a still undefined “diligent search” for the copyright holder.

It is believed that the UK Copyright Hub will be a registry not just for photos, but for all types of copyrights material including music, newspapers, books and other publications. This will add a complexity to the search engine that the CIR does not intend to deal with. Hopefully, the image search feature will be kept somewhat separate from searches for other types of copyrighted materials.

To get an idea of how a Copyright Hub search will work readers may want to take a look at the “Search by Image” feature on Thinkstock. Keep in mind that in this case the search is only looking at five Getty owned brands. The Copyright Hub search will probably work in much the same way except it will be linked to hundreds of agency and library databases.


It is unclear how the Hub will be funded. The U.K. government has provided the Hub with seed funding of £150,000 (approximately $233,430), but from what we hear the Government doesn’t seem to be willing to fund the operation on a long-term basis. We have been unable to get any estimate of what the annual costs to operate such a Hub might be.

Copyright © 2013 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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