Thursday, May 8, 2008

Copyright and the Orphan Works Bill

This is a call to action to anyone who cares about the protection of intellectual property, or, ideas fixed in tangible form, e.g., a painting, sheet music, a book, photos of your kids.

There are two new Orphan Works bills that have been introduced into the house and senate. These are: H.R. 5889 The Orphan Works Act of 2008 and S 2913 The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. The passage of them will make it easier to infringe on artwork, photographs, stories, anything now protected by copyright laws. If passed, it would mean that any work created would have to have a clear designation of the copyright holder in plain sight. If it is not in plain sight, it could be removed by the infringer, and then they would be able to say that they didn't know who did the work, that it was orphaned.

So, if I made this painting:And didn't add this notice to it,
And only added a small notice (see lower right corner)
Some clever person could come along, remove my notice, (see empty lower right corner)
and then do this to my image and claim that my work was orphaned.
Now, with the Mona Lisa, it's pretty obvious who did it, it is only the most famous painting in western art history, but what if it was something less well known, like a drawing done for a friend, or an illustration done ten years ago, or whatever. If not immediately known by the public as a stolen/infringed upon work, it could be easily used by someone else, someone who didn't own the rights to use it or even bother to find the artist who made it and pay them for the use? If this sounds like an impossible thing, I can tell you from first hand experience that I have seen my work cut out of magazines and glued to another artist's canvas, I have seen drawings I did years ago on other people's myspace pages claimed as their own.

If you want to help fight this bill, please click here, fill out a letter and send it to your representatives. Tell whomever you know to write a letter to their reps and ask them to oppose these bills.



1 comment:

gary amaro said...

Thanks for posting this, Bill.
I just wrote to Congress about it.