Thursday, September 18, 2008

Orphaned Works Act: Not dead yet...

If you are an artist, writer, photographer, musician, code-wrangler, in short anyone who creates anything subject to copyright protection, you may want to take note. Or, for those of you who just post photos on your facebook, myspace, or flickr accounts, and maybe have never heard of the Orphaned Works Act..... start thinking about whether or not you are OK with corporations mining your photos and using them for their ads. I know, I know, you're asking yourself, "Come on! who would steal photos of me and my friends and use them for commercial gain?! " *cough* Heineken. And yes, I've ranted about this again and again... but this thing wont die.

A few days ago, the Illustrator's Partnership posted their responses to the House Judiciary Committee on their blog (link here). The questions and answers are an interesting read. My favorite part of the post is this:
And on January 29 2007, twenty visual arts groups met in Washington D.C. with attorneys from the Copyright Office. The attorneys stated that the Copyright Office would not create these “indispensable” registries because it would be “too expensive.” So I asked the Associate Register for Policy & International Affairs:

Holland: If a user can’t find a registered work at the Copyright Office, hasn’t the Copyright Office facilitated the creation of an orphaned work?
Carson: Copyright owners will have to register their images with private registries.
Holland: But what if I exercise my exclusive right of copyright and choose not to register?
Carson: If you want to go ahead and create an orphan work, be my guest!
- From my notes of the meeting


The copyright office and the authors of this bill have been walking a fine line. You will notice if you read the bill, that it never mandates that creators register their work. I got a similar stance from Senator Feinstein when I voiced my opposition to the bill. Basically, the tone of the form reponse was: my dear, we aren't MAKING you register your work... & anyway, this is for works whose author cannot be found, and you're right here, so don't worry your pretty little head about this.... but hey--let me know if there's something else I can help you with!

I'm so confused....the Associate Register for Policy & International Affairs says if I don't register, I've just created an orphaned work....

The thing is, if they mandate, force, or impel a creator to register their work, they violate a couple of little international treaties they signed: the Berne Convention, NAFTA, TRIPS, WIPO and WTO treaties.

(Ooops! Maybe Carson should have thought that last comment through....)

The IPA & Capwiz make it so easy for you to voice your opinion on this. Their site will find your representative and send the letter for you. They'll even write it for you if you don't feel like writing your own. There are templates for artists, photographers, illustrators, etc. etc. there are even templates for friends of all the aforementioned creative types as well as a template for those who post photos on social network sites (scroll down to the bottom of the same link for both).

And as an added bonus, if you live in one of those countries whose treaty we will violate by passing this law, you can have your say too ( Link to international template and contacts here).

Feel free to pass the info along...

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