Tag Archives: Files

UK Photographers image ownership rights threatened by new legislation

Copyright legislation may allow legalised theft of your images

Copyright legislation may allow legalised theft of your images

UK Government lets down photographers.

In an unprecedented move a recent piece of UK legislation threatens photographers’ ownership of their own image. The Act potentially legalises online theft of images from amateur and professional alike. The legislation, which gained Royal Assent on the 25th of April 2013, will enable “orphan works” to be claimed on the basis of a copyright search. The person claiming the image will be able to re-licence it and claim full compensation for its use or resale if the copyright owner is not found.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act

The new Act, which comes into force early 2014, is a “framework” Act addressing various legislative issues. The copyright section of the Act provides the power for the Government to introduce licensing of orphan works. The Act leaves detail to be inserted later through secondary legislation. Photographers are angered that this small section of the Act has allowed this rights-changing Act to be sneaked in under the radar.

The new licensing powers will be an important re-mapping of UK copyright law. The existing emphasis on assumed copyright ownership will be shifted toward the users of copyrighted works. This represents a change of copyright ownership from a “property right” under author control to a new condition where copyright becomes a licensing/sales tool with the owner having less control over end use.

The detail of this shift in emphasis is yet to be determined. The secondary legislation will define a “diligent search” which will be needed to find the originator/copyright owner. Also to be clarified is how orphan works will be re-registered to new owners; to what extent images will be under the control of new copyright owners and how the transfer of copyright might occur.

One concern is how the process of monitoring, transferring and re-licensing orphaned images would be administered and the sort of organisation to do the work. This also raises other spectres…

  • Will works need to be registered to avoid them becoming orphaned?
  • What sort of costs are going to be involved?
  • Will artists and photographers working alone be able to register or bear the cost?
  • To what extent will amateurs be protected?

There are many more questions that need answers too.

Photographers concerns…

Last year a backlash occurred against the photography social networking site Instagram. The site implemented terms and conditions potentially passing usage rights to Instagram. In the end Instagram backed down in the light of public and user anger. Many people have seen a similar rights grabbing move in this new UK Act.

The cost of litigation against copyright abusers is prohibitive. Small photography businesses and amateurs do not have resources to fight expensive court battles. So corporations rip people off and smaller organisations hide in the tide of online images.

Photographers are worried that tide will make this legislation a free-for-all thieves charter. The concern is that anyone could claim “diligence” when searching for a copyright holder by simply doing a Google search. No immediately obvious copyright owner being found would enable them to apply for a licence to take over the copyright.

This legislation seems likely to create a new market for third party organisations to move in and manipulate the ownership of creative works. That represents a money-making bonanza for big business interests in the creative industries. It will also be a total disaster for the little guy trying to protect their life’s work and income. Amateur interests in particular are likely to be badly hit. Great images will be ripped off because amateurs will not be in a position of knowledge or resources to protect themselves.

The social media area is a particular concern. There are very real fears that the volume of images online are so huge that carrying out effective copyright searches in social media websites will not identify most image creators. This will make copyright takeovers the norm, rather than the exception, a position reinforced by weak protection for image creators.

What every UK photographer can do

This new Act is the start of a long road where the nature of copyright in the UK could change for the worse. At the moment the new landscape is shrouded in fog. However, the fact that this Act has been implemented in this way, under the radar, does not suggest a great outcome.

On the HM Government website a petition has been posted that tackles the issue. Help us raise awareness by signing the petition and telling your friends about it too. The more photographers who understand the issues the more likely we will be to ensure we have a voice in future secondary legislation on this issue. Visit this UK Government petition at:

Stop Legalised Theft of Copyrighted Works  External link - opens new tab/page

Please sign the petition and keep your eyes open for more information in the coming months.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

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Things in photography that are not true – photography lies

Photography lies – photos may not show ‘truth’

Sometimes photos pretend to be something that in reality they are not. There may be no lies involved, but the subject can be misrepresented. In fact, there are many ways that photos can be used to show something different from reality.

Photographs – proof in evidence, or photography lies?

‘Photographic evidence’ is not automatic proof. Photography lies come in many forms. Photos do not even need to be edited. Pictures can be convincing in lots of ways. We all know a short person can be photographed to look tall. And… well, just look at a few of these: Photographic illusions on Google images Photography lies on Google :: External link - opens new tab/page. Mistakes, edits and theft can all be used to spoil or lose photo-evidence. The art of illusion can also turn one thing into another in a photograph. Even digital forensics cannot detect a good illusion. Photography may be useful evidence, but it is not 100% reliable. On top of that interpretation of an image leaves us with open questions about what we see. Often we can see photography lies but our eyes deceive us. We simply do not notice them.

Photo fraud

We cannot pretend photographic fraud is a myth. Journalists have been dismissed for simple photographic edits when only slight or composition changes were at stake. There are many examples of photography lies in journalism. We recognise there are situations when manipulation costs the trust of the viewer. Nevertheless it still happens. Even top level journalists have perpetuated photography lies.

Fine line between photography lies and truths

In my view fashion magazines have frequently crossed that line using photography lies. This can particularly be seen with the obvious and routine body manipulations of celebs. photogs often remove the odd spot, wrinkle or blemish for aesthetic reasons. We may have taken a step further. However, most of us are not selling something. The extent to which misleading edits are used in the fashion and lifestyle industry is shocking. They are often easily detected. Look at these… Photoshop disasters on Google Images  Photography lies :: Photoshop disasters on Google Images ::External link - opens new tab/page. Consider these too…10 worst Photoshop disasters  Photography lies :: 10 worst Photoshop disasters :: External link - opens new tab/page; and some here too: Niaangel.blogspot Photoshop Disasters  Photography lies :: Photoshop disasters :: External link - opens new tab/page. The Internet is replete with photoshop disasters. These are just the ones that are the obvious manipulations. How many photography lies that go un-spotted will probably never be known.

Obviously past the limit…

Some of the photos we see in magazines, adverts and on TV are nothing short of criminal. In the UK the public is slowly becoming aware of this. Questions are being raised about the ethics of advert manipulation. And, more important, questions are being asked about the effects on unsuspecting or vulnerable people. Should we make celebrities thinner in photos? Should young, impressionable people see these things? Would there be less anorexia in the teen population if such editing did not happen? These are not just ethical issues. They are questions about our social direction too.

Actually the camera does lie – routinely

Many starters in photography do not realise the extent to which a camera distorts reality. This is not manipulation – it is physics. The lens which most closely approximates to the human eye is the 50mm prime. However, it is still likely to induce barrel distortions, chromatic aberrations, and random softness or distortion at the periphery of the picture.

Other lenses, most notably the fish-eye lens, are noted for distortions which are sort-after. All lenses have their special character. So do all digital image sensors. The contrast in a scene are reduced compared to the human eye too. In general, cameras don’t see exactly as we do. All sorts of aspects of a photograph differ from reality.

Lancaster Bomber fish-eye shot

• Lancaster Bomber fish-eye shot •

The fish-eye lens is noted for its ability to distort a scene.

Click image to view large.
• Lancaster Bomber fish-eye shot • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Cheating? Me?

I am a member of two camera clubs. I have seen my share of new members leaving the club when they realise people have ‘cheated’ in post production. Sky’s blued, contrasts deepened; and horrors, things cloned out. Or worse, things pasted in. Unspeakable!!!

Getting on a high horse about photography lies like these are really the tantrums of a diva. On questioning one such self-righteous person, they were adamant that they did no processing and they never would. Yet, they used *.jpg images. These are notorious for the messing around done by the on-board processors in-camera. These edits are done routinely on auto-settings. This is because most entry-level photogs and snappers do not normally do their own digital developing.

As a result there are many file changes made before you see the image. Most *.jpg files have had auto processing to blue the skies, brighten the image by about 50 points, artificially enhance contrast and remove distortions of various kinds. Digital noise is pretty routinely removed too. Certain colour enhancements and changes are not unusual. There is no standard for these. The manufactures work out what they think will look best. When they get credible results they produce a new sensor/camera combination. If that is what you want to go with – great. But, don’t try and kid anyone you have an unprocessed picture. Straight out of camera (SOOC) it may be, unprocessed it is not. Are these things photography lies?

As they are not intended to mislead – no. They are not photography lies. The photographer and camera maker are both intent on something close to what the eye can see. These ‘corrections’ are really an attempt to see the camera reproduce a more real picture. If you use a RAW format image file in your capture then you will have to make similar changes. Next you will produce your *.jpg file. The benefit of RAW is you can gain more control over the outcome. You can do what the manufacturer cannot. You can make the image how you saw it in your minds eye.

What is the nature of a photograph?

In the early 1980’s I knew a man who worked ina big London advertising agencies. As a trainee in their photographic department he saw many interesting photographic processes. One, widely used today in Photoshop, was under development for a big UK airline. Money in the hundreds of thousands of pounds was being spent developing soft-edging for aeroplanes. This allowed the image to be placed in almost any sky. They were using chemical films then. The process would allow them to easily images with aircraft as they thought right for travel articles.

Is this misleading? We all know aircraft fly. What does it matter the sort of sky we see them in? The right sort of aircraft and sky can convince people they are going to exotic or sunny places. It’s a sales point. This lifestyle message comes over in a lot of much of our literature. It could be seen as manipulating how a place is viewed. Messages like this impact on buying decisions.

Camera club members, general photographers and artists routinely and robustly defend their right to edit images. This sometimes results in an image that is nothing like the original capture. Editing, even ‘processing’ is in itself an artistic pursuit. Actually, this leads us to consider the very nature of a photographic image. Clearly it is not true Record of reality. Neither is a photograph a definitive reflection of reality. Every photograph is a personal interpretation of a scene. Every one is to some extent changed by the camera equipment, the processing, and the settings. Even the way the camera was held or mounted has an impact.

In general terms edits are not about creation of photography lies. There are elements of the capture and camera mechanism that affects the result. There are inputs that are interpretation and some that are pure art.

Photography is an art and a science. We should recognise that every image, to a lesser or greater extent, changes the reality of the scene depicted. What we appreciate about an image should not be about the process. It should be about the result. Is it a great image? Does it convey the right message or impression?

Only historians of photography will be interested in the photo-production processes in the future. Everyone else will consider the image for its merit.

So, are there really photography lies?

Yes, pure and simple.

There are photo-white lies. These may be images deliberately constructed to convey particular meaning or a message. They may be real lies. They are however not setting out to mislead in malicious way. They are about artistic interpretation and technique. They will also be about the state of camera and lens technology.

Hard deceptions are where a photograph has been set up to convey a deliberate falsehood. Some of the ‘Black-hat lies’ are easy to spot. Fraud is obvious. Deliberate manipulation with intent to mislead and misleading images to fool people about their lifestyle choices are also black-hat lies. They exist and they are damaging and sometimes criminal.

Judging is not the issue

I am not judging anyone here. There are cases where the public have been misled. There are borderline issues and blatant criminality. On the other hand we should concede an important point. Artists through the ages have sought to use contemporary tools to express themselves. The use of post-processing and editing applications is no different. It’s a reality we are not going to change. I think we should live with it and enjoy it.

What we must not do is get purist about ‘straight-out-of-camera’ as if it is something virginal and untouched. Be proud, move on.

Equally we must not attempt to mislead people. As photographers we must hold up our hands and be realistic. Changes, processing, manipulations and deliberate distortions are here, they always have been. We just need to acknowledge that fact, rejoice in it and be honest.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Getting to know file types intimately…

Here at Photokonnexion we try to provide genuinely useful tips, tricks and tutorials, as well as background information and technical supplements. We are gradually building up a small glossary of articles on photography. It is not our intention to do in-depth technical descriptions and detailed technical analysis. We want you to enjoy what you learn and share it with others. So our definitions are aimed to learning rounded facts and interesting background. We hope this helps your understanding of our shared passion without drowning you in techno-info.

In the last two days I published two articles on file types. Knowing your files helps you know your photography! These introduce you to the two classes of files that digital photography uses in general…
Important File formats – JPG
Important File Formats – RAW

Today I have published a more in-depth introduction to RAW files intended as a background reference…
Definition: RAW; RAW format files; TIFF; DNG; NEF; CR2; CRW. There is more to the RAW file than meets the eye!

File types like JPEG (*.jpg) and RAW are distinguished by the techniques used at their creation…

  • RAW files are raw data collected directly from the digital image sensor. The unprocessed file provides a very flexible data-set allowing a wide scope for interpretation of your image.
  • Ready-to-use files like *.jpg are pre-processed. You get an idealized picture produced how the camera manufacturer thinks it should be processed. Any data that does not contribute to that is discarded with little scope for change.

Raw files can be very large. The file integrity relies on all the data from your exposure being available. So to make the file smaller any file compression must not discard data. We have published a reference on ‘Lossless file compression’ so you have a little background on how RAW files might be made more compact. Read…
Definition: Lossless compression; Lossless format

On the other hand *.jpg files are compressed by dumping image data from the file. This ‘Lossy compression’ discards vast amounts of data in order to make the files smaller. Read…
Definition: Lossy compression; lossy format; lossy

Enjoy! Please leave comments and other information below. We would love to hear what you think about these new resources.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.