stop confiscation of your property and Human Rights in the UK Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

David Lammy's creative letter

A photographer in Alistair Darling’s constituency has received the following, attached to Darling’s reply to his letter. Extracts have also appeared in other Labour MPs’ letters to their constituents, such as that from Michael Wills:

Dear Alistair

Thank you for your letter ... enclosing correspondence from your constituent xxx xxxxx... I am replying as Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property.

I am aware of the concern held by some photographers that orphan works legislation will create a means for content users to appropriate content at an unfairly low cost or for free. I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that this is absolutely not the case. If any orphan works schemes are created that cover photographic works then any use of an orphan work under such a scheme can only take place after a properly diligent search has been carried out [he should read this]. The use will also require payment of a fair licence fee [and then this], and this fee will be held safely and available to be claimed by the rightful owner should they come forward. [And if they don’t, what becomes of the money? Does it go bona vacantia to the Treasury? No-one knows for sure - it’s not defined in the Bill. In time this could become a substantial pot of money.]

The Government's intention is that there should be no financial advantage from mis-identifying a work as an orphan work and that deliberate or negligent mis-identification should carry an appropriate penalty [read this again please, David].

Nothing in the Bill alters a photographer's ownership of copyright or moral rights in their work, or interferes with their licensing arrangements for that work. [Nothing is in the Bill to do that. The Bill confers powers for that to be done later in secondary legislation without proper parliamentary debate.]

As these concerns have been raised by a number of MP's and photographers, the Intellectual Property Office has published a web page which contains detailed information about the proposals. I believe this webpage addresses the issues raised by your constituent, and I would be grateful if you could pass on the following link: /c-policy-orphanworks-photo.htm

[And then he really should read this.]

I hope this information is helpful


David Lammy

The Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property has a Master’s Degree in Law from Harvard University.