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Thread: Orphan Works Legislation - Please act now to help protect visual artists

  1. #9
    SirKristoff is a poopiehead Ozzy's Avatar
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    Email's sent. I also sent this to some other people i know to also send an email. thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  2. #10

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    Thanks everyone.

    The ramifications of this bill are just insane. In addition to allowing the stealing of your photos/art and making money off them, one of the big problems with this legislation is that an infringer could take your art/photograph and just barely change it....then copyright it as their own! As it stands now, our current copyright law prevents this.

    I forgot to mention that professionally my wife Dena and I are biomedical illustrators. One time we did some art work for a video on a medical device - and only sold rights for the video. Then we found out Reader's Digest 'accidentally' printed the work in a book. We made more $$ off re-licensing to Reader's Digest than the original amount we charged for the video. The Orphan Works bill would make that impossible.

    WildBill

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    For realskis? I'm about to start medical school in July. So uhh.....got any cheap textbook connections?
    Z polski y dumny
    Prayer - how to do nothing and still think you're helping.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F5aCUNE4Z8
    ^^^Newest vid

  4. #12
    Lover of Mountains nightsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildBill View Post
    Thanks everyone.

    The ramifications of this bill are just insane. In addition to allowing the stealing of your photos/art and making money off them, one of the big problems with this legislation is that an infringer could take your art/photograph and just barely change it....then copyright it as their own! As it stands now, our current copyright law prevents this.

    I forgot to mention that professionally my wife Dena and I are biomedical illustrators. One time we did some art work for a video on a medical device - and only sold rights for the video. Then we found out Reader's Digest 'accidentally' printed the work in a book. We made more $$ off re-licensing to Reader's Digest than the original amount we charged for the video. The Orphan Works bill would make that impossible.

    WildBill
    You've got my respect and well wishes. Art has always been one of my loves and passions. I even majored in fine art for a year before changing major - a decision I now regret, as I still to this day dream of making money with art. Rest assured, I sent an email from the site you posted. Good luck!

  5. #13
    OMG h8 pings MrFlyTrap2's Avatar
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    Uuuugh!!! Read about what you're doing before taking a stand. Or sending off messages to congressmen.

    This isn't how the act will be interpreted. You're copyrighted works will not be tossed into the arena of free game. You can be identified, you can be found, you can be validated as the proper copyright holder.

    Side note: For pictures you upload, you usually surrender your copyright. Yahoo, google, facebook, all have statements like this in their user agreements. Suddenly your profile picture becomes a TGI Friday's endorcement, and you have no clue how they can get away with it. You do to here at terraforums as well, by allowing moderators to edit your postings and words.

    http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1537

    The concept behind orphan works is simple: after a fruitless search to find the rightful owner, a searcher may the use a copyrighted work without the fear of hefty copyright infringement damages. Independent and documentary film makers, libraries, archives, and museums all have collections of orphaned works that they would like to transform into new works or display, but because they cannot find the owner to ask permission or license the work, the threat of copyright infringement (which carries statutory damages as high as $150,000 per work) freezes them in their tracks.
    And if a bogus stand is made that you were not properly sought after, penalties still:

    In the unlikely event of an owner resurfacing, the bill provides for them to be reasonably compensated, and if the user acts in bad faith, the full panoply of copyright infringement damages rains down on them.
    My Grow List

    "It is only by studying nature that can we ever hope to defeat it."

  6. #14

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    You are right. Everyone should read the actual House and Senate bills (H.R. 5889, S. 2913) and be very informed.

    As the acts are now written, they will undermine contracts that visual artists have been working under for the past 30 plus years, violating the Berne Convention which governs international copyright law.

    The acts will remove the current deterrents which are the punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs - especially so for the nonprofits. Artists will not be able to recover attorney fees, which means lawyers will not want to take on copyright cases.

    In the Reader's Digest situation I'd mentioned before, they did not even try to contact us. When we contacted them, they said they would just have someone else recreate our original illustrations instead of paying us. We got paid because the books with our artwork were already printed and shipping. "Ooops" on their part. This kind of thing happens ALL the time to artists. Most publishers, ad agencies, etc., remove your signature and/or copyright from the artwork before it's published. Good luck searching for the copyright holder. Hmmmm...guess I'll just use it.

    Nonprofits, museums, libraries, etc., will have no incentive to locate a copyright holder under the act the way it is currently written. They can say they made a "reasonable" search to find a copyright holder after profiting from using the work and they will not be penalized($). "Reasonable," what's that? The nonprofit sector has over $2 trillion in assets (excluding foundations). Approximately 1.4 million nonprofit organizations are registered with the IRS. The nonprofit sector employs over 14 million people or ten percent of America's workforce and it certainly can afford to purchase and license artwork. Here's just a partial list of nonprofits that currently commission and pay to license work from medical illustrators like me:


    The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) publishes the journal Science
    American Academy of Family Physicians
    American Diabetes Association
    American Heart Association (AHA)
    Breastcancer.org, www.Breastcancer.org
    Children's Hospital Medical Center
    Epilepsy.com
    The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
    Johns Hopkins Anatomy Department
    Johns Hopkins Institute for Nursing
    Mayo Clinic
    Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix
    Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale
    The National Academies' Institute of Medicine
    National Geographic Society
    The Smile Train, The World’s Leading Cleft Charity
    The University of Texas
    The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
    University of Texas TeleCampus (on-line education)
    University of Southern California
    US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)


    Other problems with the legislation will be that it will be burdensome for artists to pay and register EVERY SINGLE WORK with yet to be even created privately owned 'visual databases'. Have you ever tried contacting the Copyright Office? They are totally understaffed, overwhelmed, and backlogged as it is now.

    Artists' work under the new legislation would be extremely devalued since there would no longer be any guarantee of exclusivity for our clients. For example, currently top pharmaceutical companies will pay more for exclusive rights to a work - meaning they and only they get to use it.

    These are just some of the reasons that I and The Association of Medical Illustrators oppose these bills.

    Here are more from the publicknowledge link mentioned above:

    These bills take the onus off the law breaker by giving them an easy defense. These bills do not allow the owner to regain their rights to control their work once an infringer certifies they “tried to find the owner”. Once the image is separated from the ownership information and is copied and recopied under the safe harbor provisions of these bills, the owner has lost all ability to control profit from their work. These bills put the full onus on the owner to pay protection money to multiple private corporations and also track down the multiplying illegal uses of the work (which will potentially explode now that everyone has a cool defense). The cost will exceed the return on the effort.

    This bill places the creators of visual art in an untenable economic situation with reduced ability to defend their property. These Bills force this scheme into effect by 2013 whether or not there is a surefire way for users to find registerd works.
    And



    This deserves opposition.

    Copyright law protects the individual artist, whether writer or illustrator or photographer or many others. As far as law goes, copyright law is pretty clear and easy to understand. If you are a free and unencumbered creator - not in someone’s employ, etc. - at the moment of creation of a work, you own it. No equivocation. You don’t even have to register it with the government, you don’t have to put a copyright symbol on it, you don’t even have to print “Copyright” on it. You create it, you own it. It is a property, and one you can hand down to your descendants. It has value. This law was designed to be clear and strong and to protect the artist, and for the artist’s life, in most cases, and beyond. Why so clear? Why so strong? Because others try to take good, creative works, use them, benefit and profit from them, and a lone individual artist is often without resources, power, or money - the average artist - to fight them.

    I’ve read the discussions, explanations, and so on, and what still remains clear after trying to wade through the justifications and such, is that the artist will lose. Ah, there’s works that someone wants “to share” or exhibit or publish, and profit from, but you can’t quite locate the owner. I say this: too bad. Wait for public domain.

    The shift will be away from whether it was taken or not - translate as “stolen” - but the burning question now will be whether someone made some reasonable attempt, according to a definition that will probably get fuzzier as time goes along, to locate the artist. Was it a good search? Did you try, real, real hard? Oh, you did? Well, just give the artist a couple hundred bucks and tell him to go away, even if you turned over thousands or tens of thousands of bucks by publishing or displaying or showcasing their work. Come to think of it, it’s probably a good thing for you that you couldn’t find the artist in your earnest search, or you may have had to split a big chunk of your profit. I’m sure not surprised that august organizations of publishers are not only not objecting to this Orphan legislation, but actually support it. So the first issue won’t be that a work was stolen, but whether or not someone thinks or decides that a proper search was made.

    No one is going to have any problem locating Microsoft for software that was protected by copyright, but tracking down Jenny Smith who wrote a great song ten years ago and couldn’t get it produced or performed, or a series of short stories that came to light, or a painting that she couldn’t sell that’s simply incredible, well, what do you do? We looked. She wasn’t around. Just take it and use it. And if Jenny surfaces, well, give her a few crumbs, tell her she’s lucky it’s published and she ought feel “just swell” about it, and we’ll put the attorneys on her, and get it squashed if need be.

    I’m not going to get into any fancy arguments about this, or be drawn into the intricacies of what constitutes a reasonable search, the problems of museums and others dying to display whatever, problems of the copyright office, this regulation or that, the bureaucracy, paperwork, forms, documents, ad nauseum that will be created. These are all moot points, and the point is the loss of rights, the incursion and taking over of property, stealing it with a fountain pen. Old story, eh? If can’t just steal it, create legislation, and “appropriate it” legally.

    If you’ve gotten this far you must have some real interest in copyright, and possibly a good grasp of it. Does the average person? I say no. My experience clearly says no. I’m a writer, and I work with graphic designers and illustrators and other writers, helped publish several books written by other writers, etc. I’ve also helped track down works that were stolen off websites and published on other websites, photos of works taken and published, etc. Since the internet the average person thinks if it’s on the internet, it’s free to take, copy, publish, use, print, etc. In addition, I’ve met other creative people who themselves don’t have a good handle or understanding of their rights, of copyright, of laws designed to protect them. Is this orphan law going to muddy the water even more? My answer is yes, I think it will.

    This law could pass, and it very well may. It’s politicians, it’s lawyers, it’s people and organizations out to be able to take (steal, by current definition) and use other people’s property, and protect them for doing so by law and regulation. Dark motives? Paranoid? Didn’t we just have a writers’ strike in Hollywood, because publishers and producers want to use writers’ works on the internet and not pay them - while there is payment for use in any other venue? Yes. So, this legislation may pass. Regardless, it is at root the loss of an individual right to keep, own, and decide what happens to one’s own work and property. So I stand with Henry Thoreau, Emerson, Mark Twain, and others, and it was Thoreau who said that because the majority passes a law, that doesn’t make it right. He was referring to slavery that was legal in this country, by law. This isn’t right either, and it couldn’t be any plainer or simpler than that.

  7. #15
    swords's Avatar
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    Sounds like maybe this "registering of artwork" is a way to gain revenues for whichever organization creates the visual databases, if it's a government database, doesn't that essentially say that you're being taxed for creating your artwork? I kind of see it that way. You can buy your materials, spend money on promoting your work, then pay an "art creation tax" for each piece you do. Pretty sneaky.

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    Just found out - this legislation could pass in the Senate on Friday unless a few senators block it.
    Last edited by WildBill; 05-14-2008 at 08:48 AM. Reason: content

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