Wednesday, May 14, 2008

URGENT! Orphan Works Act of 2008

Girl Sketching by Sir Henry Raeburn
'Girl Sketching' - Sir Henry Raeburn (1756 - 1823)

If you're aware of current copyright law, you know that as soon as you create something - written piece, sketch, composition, sculpture, anything creative - it is immediately copyrighted. This copyright is good for your lifetime + 70 years. The Orphan Works Act will destroy this structure.

From Drawn! Blog:
This new Orphan Works legislation proposes a change in U.S. copyright that would (indirectly) require artists, illustrators, photographers, and any creative individual to actively maintain and defend their copyright by registering each and every work with privatized registrars. Failure to do so would leave everything you’ve ever created as an artist up for grabs by anyone who wanted to copy, reproduce, create derivative works of, or flat out steal your work since the act defines an “orphan work” as any work where the author is unidentifiable or unlocatable, and applies to both published and unpublished works, U.S. and foreign, regardless of age.

Main points based on research and interviews:
  • This piece of legislation was written under the guidance of Peter Jaszi, a deconstructionist who believes all creativity is - and should legally be - communal

  • This specifically affects pictorial, graphic, and sculpture works

  • Nothing you have ever created or will create will be protected, even if you've already copyrighted it

  • The only way to protect your works will be to pay a fee to Commercial Registries

  • Commercial Registries do not currently exist

  • Congressional representatives state that Commercial Registries will be created by the private sector - without regulation, oversight, or standardization

  • It is your responsibility to monitor any infringement and your burden of proof should you discover such - your legal financial burden as well
There is terrible, terrible money here, and the reversal of logic running against international law is terrifying and mind-boggling. Basically, nothing created will be protected. And once these political asshats get a taste, how long before you think they'll generalize it to anything written or filmed (although filmed probably falls under "pictorial").

This is a horror and a fucking travesty. Listen to this interview with Illustrator Brad Holland for a more thorough and chilling view of exactly what this legislation means. Check out S.2913: Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 and H.R.5889: Orphan Works Act of 2008.

Got that? Good. Now contact your congressional representatives. Now. Use these templates to automatically send emails or find and write your rep through the government site. The Illustrators' Partnership of America has plenty more information.

This is frightening. Act now.

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