Copyright Orphans

There are times when government really crosses the line. In fact, the government seems to do so on a regular basis. Take, for example, a law passed 2 weeks ago by the UK Parliament that legalized the use of 'orphaned' photographs. In other words, if the owner of the photo cannot be contacted, then the photo can be used for free and without the owner's consent. The implications of this law (called the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act) are large. As Oswald states in the article New UK Law Makes Robbery Legal, "this extraordinary change in the law drive a horse and cart through copyright protection."

I think that as more valuable and personal content is stored in the cloud, the concept of property rights and intellectual property will start to disseminate, and government will become increasingly Big Brother-esque.

On a positive note, this growing dilemma provides many opportunities for individuals with technological expertise to design software and/or technology that empowers artists by concreting their copyright ownership over their content, thus allowing them to publish their work fearlessly onto the web. Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom, for example, provides tools for photographers and graphic designers to safeguard their work from the claws of malicious corporations. Specifically, Lightroom enables its users to watermark their work and decide where to place it and the degree of opacity. A much more advanced feature that Lightroom provides is the ability to embed IPTC metadata into the digital photograph. Precautions such as this are becoming more and more essential for those of us who want to safely publish our work onto the internet.

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