Sunday, May 4, 2008

Orphan Works Bill: The beginning of an Anti-Renaissance... Please Protest!!

Who cares about stuffy congressman and some random bill you say? Welcome to the Anti-Renaissance where anyone's dreams of making a business out of your passion for the arts and your creativity will no longer feasible. Her name is the "Orphan Works" bill. What is that you ask? Well, Not only is the bill, which has been squashed to an extent, and just festering around, in the House Judiciary committee, being open for discussion, BUT, ANOTHER version of the bill is being introduced in the Senate! It basically allows people, who want/find and "creative work", whether it is visual art, music, entertainment recordings of sorts, writings, etc. - a creation by someone that's created it by them and them alone- to be allowed to use it, even for profit, IF they do a "reasonable" search for the owner of the work. Now, the word "reasonable" is in question, because these said infringers could "say" that they did a search, but in reality, not life a finger to find the owner. Alot of photogrophers are up in arms about this, artists of all kinds, illustrators, etc. Even if you own the rights to a dvd or vcr tape, or script, or manuscript- this affects all of you. And the fees AND penalties that the infringer would pay the owner, is pitance, and rediculous, compared to what they are capable of receiving now. Artists would not be able to afford the intellectual property lawyer's fees to recoup awards from the infringers, because of these bills!

My hope here tonight, is to ask you who reads this, to please protest the "Orphan Works" bill, not only up for talk in the Judiciary committee in the House of Reps in Congress ( click here and look for Orphan Works bill) BUT, it's being introduced in the Senate! How the bill just got slid in, into Senate, without House approval, is beyond me.

None the less, go here and can listen to an interview with Brad Holland (famous artist and proponent for Artist's rights) about how dangerous this bill is to artist, plus go to here to see whatthe bill entails.

It's frightening, this bill, or shall I say, THESE BILLS. Basically, it's the "free use" society, if you will, you know the types, the ones that feel if it's out in the public, it's public domain so why pay for it, wanting this bill to go through. It's a lot of publishers and stock image places, like Getty Images, wanting this bill to go through. Also a lot of museums and libraries wanting this to go through.

The IPA (Illustrators Partnership Assoc.) has a lobbyist working against it for artists.

Even if you have, say, photos of your kids, or your vacations, online, well, guess what? Some entity, because they didn't take the time (or just plain didn't want to cut you in on profits) could take YOUR family photos and use them on their products, without asking you or paying you!

Another thing I found out, was that in the Senate's version of the bill. you'd have to register with approved copyright office registries (yes registrieS, plural- apparently the copyright office is outsourcing or going private or something, I still am confused how this can happen, but...) SO, you'd have to not only register with one company, your copyright, but other copyright registries! It already costs $45 per copyright registration, THROUGH the copyright office at

Now, you may ask, how does this affect anyone outside of the US? I'll show you. See, the US, and the UK signed this bit of international legislation at the "Berns Convention of 1976" and any country that signed it, would have to use it as law. Basically, it states that once a creation is made, REGARDLESS if it is officially copyrighted, or not, the law says that once created, it is COPYRIGHTED. Period. No markings needed, no copyright fee to pay, etc.

How these bills are allowed, and then making an end run around the "Berns Convention of 1976" is beyond me. I know that alot of big business corps are pushing for at least one of these bills to get through. Surprisingly, some publishers, who are said to be pushing it through, some of them are on OUR side, helping us.

How it affects non-US citizens, to my UK friends, my musician friends- I say to you, contact your lawyer, your entertainment lawyer, and get them to look this over, these bills, because...

Say you're a non- native of the US, yet, you have say, a cd or album released here in the US, under a separate record label, specifically for your US releases, THESE bills affect you! These bills affect your copyright issues here in the US.

So, PLEASE, make some contacts, whether emails, faxes or snail mail, to the appropriate parties in congress, namely to the Senate, and the House Judiciary committee.

If your lazy, like me, and need a quick form letter to send to your Senator or Congressman/woman click here and fill it out.

We are talking about the livelihoods of a lot of freaking poor artists here... and maybe some cute old scrapbook ladies too. If you care about the future of creative works... don't put off writing your Senator or Rep.

Thank you!


Andersons said...

I hadn't heard of this before - thanks for enlightening me! This seems crazy to me, what with all the legislation around copyrighted music. This is totally going in the opposite direction that the govermnment should be taking (that being protecting the rights of the few.) Anyway, I'll totally write my congressmen and give them my opinion. Not just for your sake (you know I love you Mer) but for that cute little old scrapbook lady. Poor thing.

Meridth Gimbel said...

hehe... thanks Jensa :)

Autumn said...

you'll never believe it but my mom said that she wrote to our reps! Good for her huh? Tyler also said he is spreading the word... he's got lots of artsy friends in high places, yea! Down with bellies full of duckbilled dinosaur!

Chuck Gillespie said...

As you guys know the bill made it through the senate...Please dont give up...Stop it in the House Judiciary committee!...

Thanks for spreading the word