Monday, 29 March 2010

Orphan Works - the Fall Guy, the Politician and the Photographer - Part 2

Peter - The Politician

Mandelson was furious. The Intellectual Property Office was the government organisation that ran the Orphan Works website and they reported to him. All through the passage of the Digital Economy Bill the IPO had assured Mandelson that the worries of photographers were completely over the top. In enacting subsequent legislation Mandelson had taken them for their word, after all the stuff about 'embedded metadata' was really all too complicated and there was a real economy to rescue. He demanded to know how his photo could have been used in this way.

It was explained to him (gently) that not everyone knew who he was. People could be diligent about searching without being all knowing. Yes, searching on "Peter Mandelson" in line with IPO guidelines MAY have found the photographer's details but searching on "handsome man moustache" while arguably being sensible enough to be diligent (but in reality pretty stupid) plainly did not work.

Mandelson demanded to know whether the IPO had carried out controlled tests on real examples of "Orphan Works" to see whether the owner of the copyright of images stood a fair chance of being found, even say a 50% chance. Photographers had after all warned of the lack of any effective tools to do this. The IPO explained that the chances were nearer 0% of an image being found in a 'diligent search', the technology did not exist.

This started Mandelson worrying about other of the claims he remembered photographers making. He wanted to know about how successful photographers might be in locating an image on the Orphan Works register once it had been sold as an orphan.....

"Well", he was told, "there are 324,543 images already in the register so every photographer could expect to see some of their images there."
"So," he said, "how long might it take a photographer to look through all these images for one that may have been used?"
"Well, approximately 3 working days".
"And how much may they receive for their effort?"
"We decided on 50% of the fee we received sir"
"So in the case of my image, the photographer got £15"
"That's right sir"
"£15 for 3 days work for a photographer! That's about right."
"But photographers do have other facilities, sir. They can do a keyword search"
"You mean we keyword the images so that photographers can find them"
"Well, yes we keyword them but photographers don't find them - you see a photographer with 5000 different images would have to perform 5000 different searches using different terms to find a few actually used. After all they don't know which images have been used. That sort of search actually takes about a working week"
"So why keyword them"
"Well sir, image buyers who want an image of one subject usually have one search to make"
"So we are sort of running a photo library?"
"Yes minister"
"And does it make money?"
"Indeed minister. With more and more orphans, more and more people are giving up on traditional sources and coming to us to get their photos instead And so few photographers reclaim any money that we've been able to refurbish all the IPO's offices"
"So in fact it seems the scheme is working really well"
"Yes sir."
"Working well in every way except one. For me. HOW DID I FINISH UP BEING MADE A LAUGHING STOCK?"

This is fictional. The lessons are real.

> The Fall Guy
> The Photographer

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic, Scott. A fictional story that may very well be about to come true.

    Two more days to win the argument!