Meet the Godzilla of copyright infringement: Extended Collective Licensing

Monster in the city

Sure by now you have heard about the potential risk of losing control over your images once you upload them on the Internet (on your blog, Facebook/Twitter/G+ page or even by selling them). Here's an older article here that explains how minor changes in layout can generate a huge mass of copyright infringements, in most cases without people even knowing it.

The content we generate as professionals or amateurs, for commercial means or just for fun should remain ours, at least for the next 72 years.

In April this year a bill was given Royal Assent in UK, which means it's on its way to become a law. If this law goes through it will allow people to use images similarly to the well known (at least for US photographers) orphan works bill. Which didn't pass by the way, mostly thanks to the lobby of photographers and photo associations.

Any image that cannot be traced back to the author (and in some cases even those) can be used commercially via Collecting Societies (which, drum roll please, will collect money!). These societies will then distribute money to the authors they found, but given how the Internet works (most platforms will strip EXIF/IPTC copyright) very few works will be traceable back to the author. Any image that is licensed might be traced back to the site using it, but that doesn't mean that site owns the copyright.

Talking about privacy? Imagine a billboard using your family moments posted in your social media account.

All in one, if this law goes through, we won't be talking about pressure put on prices but about the largest inventory that can be used for free, without any compensation to the author or model. I will spare you about logistics issues or model releases conflicts.

If approved, this law will affect all people, since this isn't just about content creators, but all users. It's not even restricted to UK (good luck trying to trace back an author from remote Asia who doesn't speak English).

What can you do? Fill up the survey below and share your thoughts:

SURVEY ECL (survey ends June 17th, 2014).

Tell your friends (especially your UK ones) and post your thoughts on social media. This is not just about images, it's about any creative works (written, drawn or recorded). This is not just about commercial images, it is about an invasion of your privacy.

Photo credits: Philcold.
Serban Enache
View blog View portfolio
  • Achilles
  • Bucharest, Romania
Almost 20 years ago, I've started my own revolution in design and photography. It was a bet I made with myself to see if passion can become a way of life. It has for me.

Dreamstime is one of the world's leaders in stock photography, although it has started with an obsolete, now out-of-date digital camera and my modest collection of photos. But I pursued my dream and now Dreamstime, apart from being an agency and a business, is the largest gathering place for passionate photographers and designers. I like to think that we're not offering photographers just a way to earn money out of their passion, but also a way to keep them going on with their dreams. We're glad to help either way.

Feel free to contact me in regards to anything related to the website, be it general feedback or business development questions.

Your comment must be written in English.

We value all opinions and we will not censor or delete comments unless they come from fake accounts or contain spam, threats, false facts or vulgarity.


April 27, 2015

Thank you for letting us know, will take the survey for sure. Anyway it is sensless, and a county law that not compatible with international ones. What a mess if a law like this is instated.


July 03, 2014

If I'm uploading a photo to any social media (not for stock) I always add a copyright big and unmistakable, and I make the photo less than 1000 px at 72 dpi. This way I not only keep my image from being used, I also add a little advertising. If they like it enough to grab it and share it, my business name gets shared as well.


June 16, 2014

Thanks for sharing, this great and usefull information.


June 15, 2014

Basically, after this scheme rolls out, if you post any image to social media, make sure to watermark it with a big copyright sign. In addition, post only 800x600 sized pictures with 72dpi resolution.

I know it makes the picture a bit more ugly, but that's one way to protect your works online.


June 14, 2014

I am very interested in this subject and thank you for spreading the word. I enjoy sharing my photos with friends and family. Since I became Dreamstime contributor, I am concerned about possible coping of images of my photo-sharing website that is open to the public. I am looking forward to see some development in this area to prevent unauthorized coping and still allow sharing the world of photography for pure enjoyment.


June 14, 2014

I don't understand this. I don't understand how the "Collecting Societies" get hold of the images, or how image creators become "members" of the societies, or how images that society members haven't permitted use of can be sold by the societies, or whether opting out just means that you don't want to be paid, or if you have to join all the societies in order to be able to agree or disagree on any licensing scheme.
And I have tried reading the link to the Govt consultation paper.


June 12, 2014

"Tell your friends (especially your UK ones) and post your thoughts on social media."
I told Brett. It's the only friend I have there. The rest are in UKIP... :)


June 12, 2014

I also just finished the survey. It takes only a few minutes ....


June 11, 2014

Thank you for sharing these important information!


June 11, 2014

Thank you for your information its very usefull. I just took the survey too :)


June 11, 2014

I took the survey and hope everyone will. Thank you, Serban, for this important information.


June 11, 2014

Aren't gov. legislators great. Tighten the laws for corporate rights but loosen them for the general public's rights. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, like it's always been. He who has the most $$$ wins!


June 11, 2014

So sad that legislation keeps getting put out there that would allow people to use artwork for free and without the consent of the artist. It makes absolutely no sense and, to me, it is stealing. Plain and simple. The only way to fight this type of legislation is to band together as the art community and make our voices heard every way possible. So please, fill out the survey in the link in this article. And please post any other links to petitions and surveys that will make it clear to our legislators, WE DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY OUR ARTWORK!


June 11, 2014

In these days it is not a bad idea it seems to have all images on one place like being exclusive. Of course it will not solve the problem but it helps. I will take part of the survey for sure as soon i am home.