Edmond Terakopian reports in his blog that the UK government has passed an Act that will allow the unauthorized use and free use of any work that is considered “orphaned”. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act means that any digital work that does not have metadata or watermarking showing ownership can be used without payment. Whilst it is incumbent on anybody using an image to show that they have diligently attempted to contact the creator, many websites, social networking sites and press agents actually strip out an image’s metadata, making it easy to claim that this search was difficult or impossible.
It is also important to underline that this affects both amateur and professional photographers, and the Act will apply to all images on the internet, regardless of where they originate. So an image created by a photographer from outside the UK would be treated in the same way. Quite how this will be implemented is not yet understood and it is likely that there will be challenges in the courts.
If you do not already do so, the addition of watermarks on all your images including those used on social networking sites, has become of vital importance if you plan to derive income from them.