U.K. Passes Orphan Act Bill


The landscape of copyright continues to evolve and change for the worst across the globe. The U.K. has passed an Orphan Act into law which will allow anyone to exploit artwork or photography that doesn’t have the identity of the creator on it.

Similar laws have been proposed in the U.S. but quick and loud outcry from the population put a halt on forward progress. This doesn’t seem to have happened in the U.K. and laws regarding copyright are reportedly shifting in Canada as well.

To say you need to be mindful of how your artwork is presented online is an understatement. How do our readers feel about this? Will this change affect how you present your artwork online? Let us know in the comments.

For more info see original article here.

For an additional article that explains the act from the governments viewpoint,check here.

An article from the Association of Illustrators on the topic.


art kid newschool

“The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called “orphan works”, by placing the work into what’s known as “extended collective licensing” schemes. Since most digital images on the internet today are orphans – the metadata is missing or has been stripped by a large organisation – millions of photographs and illustrations are swept into such schemes.”

You can sign a petition here to try and stop this law from completing it’s legislation process if you choose.


  1. Jolle

    So in other words, [This text was written by Jolle] you need to add ugly watermarks [This text was written by Jolle] over your images in order to [This text was written by Jolle] try and keep them from being orphaned [This text was written by Jolle] cause a simple and subtle copyright notice would [This text was written by Jolle] also not be enough. That means the entire image [This text was written by Jolle] will be covered in protection, [This text was written by Jolle] and that’s basically the same [This text was written by Jolle] as what I’m doing with the text I’m typing here [This text was written by Jolle] is like.
    Nice illustration to go with the articel by the way! Lacking a watermark, but still… 😛

    • David R. Vallejo

      The thing about watermarks is that they are not that difficult to manipulate or eliminate altogether which, hypothetically speaking, would create an “orphan” work.
      On that note, I hope Jolle doesn’t mind if I cut out her authorship texts and add it to my blog 😉

      • WilsonWJr

        Just make sure you pay the gov’t first before you do! As long as they make money and Jolle doesn’t, who cares! Also, Jolle is a guy. 😉

    • WilsonWJr

      Seems that way. Or you have to metatag it. It seems like the only winner in this will be the gov’t getting paid when folks register and pay them to use your work. :(

      Thanks for the compliment on the illustration! Let me go and drop a great big ole watermark across it! LOL!

      How have you been man!?

  2. LangiSketches

    *sigh* Sounds like I’m back in my early days on the internet, when I plastered every inch of my work with a watermark.

  3. Lori Maxwell

    Okay, so it’s back to the watermarks. Not REAL happy. What I’m wondering is, how does U.K. law effect us in the U.S., or anywhere else, for the moment? Since the ‘Net is everywhere, will it mean a lot over overseas litigation? I’m certainly not prepared for that. I hope this isn’t a precedent. You know, I always thought using a site with a password would be a way to miss out on opportunities – it may be the only ‘first defense’ available – and you’ll still have to watermark or metatag. Where are the ‘rights’ in copyrights?

  4. Sharon Kurlansky

    This is a disaster for creatives!! The Illustrators Partnership of America (among others) has done much to fend off Orphan’s Works legislation here, but the initiative will likely surface again soon given the UK passage.

  5. Kirsty

    It’s not quite as bad as the comments seem to be suggesting. People have to make a ‘diligent search’ for the copyright holder before declaring it an ‘orphan work’. They can’t do so just because it doesn’t have a name on it. And removing a watermark certainly wouldn’t make it one!

    That’s not to say it doesn’t have many problems – not least that ‘diligent’ hasn’t been defined.

  6. Serviced Apartments Resident

    It’s a shame, such a grey area. I guess it will encourage artists to be more mindful of putting their work out there, but then again it might put them off completely, which is such a shame.


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