SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- As the media turned its attention last weekend to battles on Capitol Hill over the fate of the proposed Wall Street bailout bill, Internet companies including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. quietly walked away with a legislative victory that could facilitate their use of copyrighted material.
A Google spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. A Microsoft spokesman was unable to comment.
The Senate on Friday passed the Orphan Works Act of 2008, legislation that weakens copyright protection for works whose owners cannot be located. The legislation has now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
The legislation requires only that a company make a "reasonably diligent" search to locate a copyright owner before using their work in media including the Internet, and limits compensation required for the use of an infringed work.
In comments sent to the U.S. Copyright Office in 2005, as legislation was brewing, Google General Counsel David Drummond wrote that orphaned works often "exist in a sort of purgatory," and "represent an untapped wealth of information that can and should be made accessible to the public."
Drummond wrote that greater clarity on the status of orphaned works could provide comfort to companies such as Google, "that they can publish a work without fear of liability."
Critics of the Orphan Works legislation, however, argue that it is too vague, and threatens to unnecessarily weaken the rights of copyright holders.
In an editorial written for the New York Times in May, Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig dismissed the legislation as "both unfair and unwise."
In a statement issued Monday, the National Press Photographers dismissed the Orphan Works Act as "a piece of special interest legislation," and called on its members to voice opposition to it "as quickly, and loudly, as possible."
In its own statement issued earlier, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists said the legislation "threatens the livelihoods of everyone who relies on copyright for a living."
Some of the Comments from the site:
Post Script/ Good story but headline should have read:
Artists and Creative Professionals Screwed by Congress as they tinker with good legislation and turn it into bad legislation, (just in time for caviar and martinis with Google's chief legal counsel at a bistro on K street)
"reasonably diligent" search...
Looking out the window for 5 minutes? Nah... not diligent enough.
Walking around the block and asking people at the local cafe if they've seen or heard of the author? Not quite. Maybe the author lives/works/eats more than three blocks away.
Putting up a website and requiring the author to search it to find their own orphaned work... Then fighting the resulting claim in court that it's too costly to actually search for people. Probably.
Lover of Mountains
Crap. Not good. I wrote my reps about this, and only got an automated response back from them.
Guess we are nothing against the lobbying power of M$ and Google. Their world domination marches on.
While every one was watching the debates last night, the house slyly pulled this bill out of the Judiciary committee. Found this out around 10pm last night when the fax and phone lines were off. The House of Representatives IS planning on passing this today.
If it passes, any images that you have up now or have ever been put on the internet (believe me, it's ALL been archived - try the internet wayback machine) would be fair game for anyone to use for their own purposes with little you could do to stop it. If you found out, you would still be screwed.
For example, I could pull any images from the TF, Myspace, or Facebook and use them for T-Shirts, a book, a billboard ad, even something like a porn ad or printed toilet paper. I could take the pictures of Nepfreak and Nepenthusiast from the NECPS Show thread and make a pro or anti abortion or gun control ad. I could make gillions and not give you a dime. I could minimally change your image and copyright is as my own. All I would have to say is, "I tried to find the image owner, but couldn't..." I win you lose. No lawyer would take your case.
SO...... IF YOU CARE ABOUT THIS ISSUE AT ALL.... NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL your representative and OPPOSE HR 5889.
Here is the Toll Free Washington DC Switchboard Number (just ask for your rep, they'll put you through) 1-800-828-0498. They may say "It's not on the schedule for today" However, they'll schedule it at a moment's notice, and slam it through under 'not normal' operating rules. That's why it's important for your voice to be heard.
Thanks for Your Support.
Last edited by WildBill; 10-03-2008 at 08:30 AM.
Reason: more info