May 14

Help defeat the Orphan Works Bill

Michael Jantze (author of “the Norm” and NCS Northern CA leader) write: “Here’s a life and death issue for all of us. The Orphan Works Bill in front of congress…meant to strip us of our copyright and trademark rights as artists. Read more here and use the forms to send letters to your senators and representatives.”

Send a message and find out more here:

The bill is moving it’s way fast, so we need to DO THIS NOW. Tell a friend or artist you care about.

This bill would radically alter the copyright laws and strip art creators of their rights of ownership:

from the link above (from the letter to send from home photographers):

This legislation will initiate an unseen feeding frenzy by companies harvesting the online images of ordinary citizens. These images are currently protected by international copyright law, but under this bill, opportunists and thieves will be allowed to construe them as Orphan Works.

These billions of images are not registered. They have no statement of copyright or ownership, and will not likely be registered or removed from the web by the time this bill takes effect. Any image an infringer can locate without a name on it – or any he can remove a name from – can be run through a for-profit registry, and if it’s not there, it will be fair game for companies to sell.  In essence, it will be legalized theft and invasion of privacy.

Due to the lack of publicity about this bill, the most innocent victims of this plunder – those who put images online – are still completely unaware of it. Who am I talking about?  Average American families who have enjoyed the internet as a way to share the happiest, and even saddest, moments of their lives with their friends and family across the country, and even around the world, through the wonders of technology. Google has already said they plan to use these orphan works in the millions. Why should companies like this be allowed to to harvest our property from private web pages, blog sites, share sites and the like?

Who is going to warn average citizens that the pictures they’ve already posted on the internet may now become someone else’s commercial inventory? Will Congress give us time to take our photos off these sites? Will you protect the owners of these sites from losing their users and advertising revenues?

Who’s going to explain to the average citizen that he will now have to pay some corporate giant to register his family photos? Who’s going to explain that even if he does, the photos may pop up anywhere in the world?  Who’s going to explain why there’s nothing he can do about it except track down the infringer and take him to federal court? Who’s going to explain why he’s going to have to prove that the infringer didn’t do a diligent search (whatever that means)?

Limiting penalties for infringement is like like putting thieves on the honor system. Who’s going to explain to the average guy why our government is doing this?

I am an amateur graphic artist and photographer. I make very little from my art. Some years I lose money. But I do it for fun, and because it allows me to express myself in ways that my ordinary work doesn’t let me.  I have created quite a few images, hundreds.  This law would force me to lose more money registering all these pictures, and for what? Registriescan’t protect my work. They can only give me a piece of paper saying I’ve registered a picture – hundreds, thousands of these pieces of paper, which  I’ll have to file and keep somewhere, in case I ever find an infringement and have to track down an infringer and take him to federal court. And then what? What if I actually find the infringer? What’s he going to say: “sure I infringed your work”? That’s not human nature. He’ll say “the picture didn’t have any name on it when I found it – so sue me and prove it’s yours.” Who’s going to explain to ordinary citizens why this kind of abuse of their private property will now become one of the daily risks of everyday life?

I’ve read that a lawyer from the Copyright Office was asked what would happen if someone chose not to register his work in one of these money-making registries. He replied “If you want to go ahead and create an orphan work, be my guest!”  If that is the position of the Copyright Office, clearly something is seriously wrong.

There are a lot of people like me out here in the REAL World outside of Washington D.C. – who think this legislation is not good and should not be passed.  The graphic arts community all over the World is stunned and appalled by the nature of this legislation and its potential impact. They are hoping we in the art community here in the U.S. can stop this legislation.

I recently saw a poem by an independent artist describing how she felt about her art.  She said her art was her emotions.  Should she have to pay a fee to anyone for the right to express and protect her emotions?

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  1. […] google has all ready announced that it plans to publish and disseminate anything they can find on the web, free and clear! […]

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