Monday, September 22, 2008

Are You Aware of the Orphan Works Act? Be Informed!

Forwarded from the Illustrators’ Partnership of America:

Orphan Works: Responses to the House Judiciary Committee

If you've written Congress about the Orphan Works bill, you may have received a reply based on talking points supplied by the House Judiciary Committee. Recently, a Congressman asked us to respond to them in detail. On September 1, we did. We've posted our replies on our blog:

The Committee's statements are taken verbatim from their talking points. Our responses have been filed with the Small Business Administration for distribution to members of Congress. Artists are free to use any of our responses in their own letters to lawmakers.

Some excerpts:

• [T]his bill re-defines an "orphaned work" as any work by any author that any potential user ever finds hard to find. Sooner or later, that could be every work by every author. This bill will define millions of works as orphans on the premise that some may be.
• Why must an owner be "easily found" by parties other than those the owner chooses to do business with? Is there a national emergency in visual images that requires legislation to regulate this sector of the free market?
• There's no need for government intervention here. We're professionals. We're alive, working and managing our copyrights. We can be found. Our clients find us all the time. But that doesn't mean that anyone, anywhere can find us. And frankly, why should it? Basing a law on this questionable premise is not solving an orphaned work problem. It's legalizing the taking of private property.
• The argument that artists can always resolve orphan works disputes in court is a measure of the bill's most serious defect:  Any law that drives business decisions into the courts is bad for business and bad for the courts.
• We believe our work benefits the public by being published through the channels where we wish to publish it. The current copyright law works by giving us the incentive to keep doing this. 
• Authors' rights are exclusive. Public interest cannot compel creators to publish their work. So by what right of eminent domain can government give members of the public the right to publish their work for them?

    - Brad Holland, for the Illustrators' Partnership

For ongoing developments, go to the Illustrators' Partnership Orphan Works blog:

Take Action: Don't Let Congress Orphan Our Work
E-mail your Senators and Representatives with one click. Go to:

This Capwiz site is open to professional creators and any member of the image-making public.  Sample letters have been provided. International artists will find a special link, with a sample letter and instructions as to whom to write.

Two minutes is all it takes to write Congress and defend full copyright protection for creators.

This email may be posted or forwarded in its entirety to any interested party.

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