Photographers slam British Library's mission creep

Big bureaucrats scoff at the law


The Stop Clause 43 campaigners have sounded a warning over the British Library's newspaper digitisation initiative.

The project certainly isn't Freetard friendly. In fact, it demands money for access to material that's free to view today in Colindale. The big institution appears to have taken a Google-like approach: shoot first, and ask questions later. It's questionable whether the Library has the rights to the stuff it is digitizing. While it has a historical exclusive license, this doesn't cover online rights. But one of the oddest aspects is that the venture, in partnership with Friends Reunited owner Brightsolid, is a state-granted commercial monopoly.

A historical analogy is the East India company, which successfully saw off all threats to its monopoly status for over 200 years, adopting the functions of the state itself. It eventually merged into the imperial bureaucracy.

For Stop 43's Paul Ellis, this is "Big Culture" - what he calls the powerful galleries, museums, and quangos like the Arts Council - taking the mickey.

"It's clear now that the whole orphan works programme is one big supertanker, taking just as long to turn and stop," Ellis told us. "The British Library's statement reads as if Clause 43 had been enacted. Unfortunately for them, the supertanker has a new captain.

"Big Culture has looked at Google and wants to do the same thing. They just want to get on digitizing and build up a head of steam. Then nobody will be able to do anything about it."

The wrinkle is that newspaper copyright is far from straightforward. Only unsigned articles lapse from copyright after seventy years. For bylined pieces and photographs it's life plus 70. And since a newspaper is a bundle of all three, it's a complex picture.

James Murdoch also weighed in on the plans, pointing out that it isn't a free service, but a private monopoly.

"This is not simply being done for posterity, nor to make free access for library users easier, but also for commercial gain via a paid‐for website.

"The move is strongly opposed by major publishers. If it goes ahead, free content would not only be a justification for more funding, but actually become a source of funds for a public body."

So it's no Kumbaya giveaway - something that the freetards, who think in black and white terms, have yet to realise.

It's useful to place the project into the larger context of mission creep. Earlier this year the Library vowed to archive the UK web - again, a load of other people's stuff - with the taxpayer paying the bill, while a cosy monopoly and the bureaucrats reap the reward.

A bit like the bank bail-out, really.

There are many other alternative approaches that can benefit us punters as well as the creators, without creating permanent jobs for the bureaucrats. We'll explore some of these next week. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021