Thursday, December 04, 2008

Orphan Works - A Lame Duck Countdown - recommended read

Concerns have been raised again that the Orphan Works backers will try to get their bill passed by suspending the rules when the Lame Duck session of Congress convenes next week.

I recommend that all those interested in and following the Orphan Works Debate in the USA (and future developments in the UK) should add the ILLUSTRATORS' PARTNERSHIP ORPHAN WORKS BLOG to the blogs they 'follow'. If you care about your copyright I recommend you read this blog now! Plus tell your friends....

The blog has started a series of posts aimed at raising awareness of the significant issues which spell out why this bill is too controversial to be passed in a Lame Duck session.

I'm quoting below the whole of the first post in the series Orphan Works: Lame Duck Countdown Part I. Little Known Facts as this highlights in summary all the issues discussed in subsequent posts.

If you care about your copyright and live in the USA and/or are concerned about how this very lame approach to law-making might travel to the UK then make sure you read all these posts. Mind you, I don't think you'll need a lot of persuading to follow the series after you've read this first one!!!

I'm posting about this now as I think that it's critical that the views of visual artists are properly heard in a proper full session. There are solutions which properly address orphan works issues and at the same time protects the interests of visual artists. This is particularly critical at present as the world enters a recession and as visual artists need to make sure that all their income streams are properly protected.

Bottom line - the commercial interests of corporate America should not overwhelm those of the individual visual artist. The voice of the 81 creators' organizations which oppose the U.S. Orphan Works Bills - and their members - need to be heard.
Congress will reconvene for a lame duck session next week. That means Orphan Works backers may try again to pass their bill by suspending the rules. We believe this bill is too controversial to be passed by backroom dealing. It would let commercial interests harvest and monetize the personal property of ordinary citizens without their knowledge.

The bill can be improved, and we’ve offered amendments that would improve it. But there’s not enough time to improve it during a lame duck session. The bill should be held over until the next session of Congress, when those whose livelihood it will threaten can have the opportunity to present their case.

Over the next few days, we’ll highlight some little known facts about the way this bill has been conceived, drafted and promoted. We believe these facts raise serious questions about the legislative process that has brought this legislation to the brink of passage:

1. The “legislative blueprint” for the Orphan Works bill was not the result of the Copyright Office’s year-long Orphan Works Study. It was drafted before the study began, by law students who made no apparent effort to survey its potential impact on commercial markets.

2. The blueprint was drafted under the guidance of a legal scholar who opposes current copyright protections. He has written that authors in the internet age “may not need the long, intense protection afforded by conventional copyright -- no matter how much they would like to have it.”

3. The Copyright Office received barely 200 relevant letters to their Orphan Works Study. Although they testified to Congress that the number was “over 850,” they failed to acknowledge that more than 600 letters had to be dismissed as irrelevant or too vague to determine their relevance to orphaned work.

4. In their Orphan Works Report, the Copyright Office failed to acknowledge a unified statement submitted by 42 national and international visual arts organizations. This statement called for the maintenance of existing copyright protections and warned that a bill drafted too broadly would spread uncertainty in commercial markets.

5. The Copyright Office studied the specific subject of orphaned work, yet concluded they had discovered a widespread “market failure” in commercial markets. But since they didn’t study commercial markets, there’s no evidence for this conclusion in their report.

6. The principal author of the Orphan Works Report has acknowledged that their true goal was to “pressure” working authors into relying on registries to protect their work. He said this was necessary because artists and photographers have “failed to collectivize.”

7. Two of the key players in the legislative process have already left government service and gone to work for companies that stand to profit from passage of the bill. On the other hand, one of the parties who testified in favor of the bill has already gone to the Copyright Office. She’s now in charge of orphan works.

We think these and other little known facts give lawmakers sufficient reason not to pass this bill without a thorough vetting.
Orphan Works: Lame Duck Countdown Part I. Little Known Facts
Those interested in this topic of copyright and orphan artworks may also be interested in:
Visual artists need to know how to protect their images - both on the the internet and in the wider marketplace where artists have to deal with the fact that not all countries operate copyright law in exactly the same way. At the same time they need to ensure they are not disadvantaged by new proposals for dealing with orphan artworks.
Introduction to Copyright and Orphan Artworks - Resources for Artists

[Note: For those who know about these things, I do know this is a red breasted goose rather than a duck because that's what the St James Park Guide to waterfowl tells me - but it's the only photo I've got of a bird standing on one leg! This is the exercise of artistic licence in a nice way! ;) ]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katherine;
    I don't know if you have covered this or not....
    I just recently upgraded to Adobe CS4 and in Photoshop in particular there is a menu for "File Info" which embeds an image with a copyright and whatever contact info an artist wants to provide. That way when the file is opened that text info is embedded in the image. I just have copyright and my name on the recent stuff, but in light of this post, I plan to include my web address as 'contact info'.

    Thank you for keeping us up to date...


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