Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why the average Joe should care about the Orphan Works Act (Courtesy of IPA)

Should the general public care about the Orphan Works Act?

Yes, because the effects of this bill will expose any citizen's visual images to infringement, including infringement for commercial purposes or distasteful uses.

Most people don't understand current copyright law. But under current law, they don't have to - the law itself protects them from not understanding it. Anything you create is considered your private property.

But under this amendment, all citizens would be required to understand that they must now take active steps - not to actually protect their work (because registries won't protect it) – but merely to preserve their right to sue an infringer in federal court (in case they ever find out they've been infringed in the first place).

Otherwise, ignorance of copyright law will be be no excuse against an infringer who has done a "reasonably diligent search" for a photo he found on a blog, photo sharing site, Facebook page, or other source.

Proposal for Copyright Warning and Public Awareness Campaign

If this bill is passed, copyright will no longer be considered the exclusive right of the creator. Therefore, Congress should direct the Copyright Office to commence an awareness campaign to be conducted in all media, explaining to all copyright holders the new terms of copyright protection. Public warnings should state at least the following:

“Due to a change in US copyright law, citizens should now be aware that any creative expression they put into tangible form – from professional artwork to family photos - will be subject to infringement, including infringement for commercial uses, by anyone in the United States who is unable to locate them by what the infringer determines – and a court agrees - to be a reasonably diligent search.

“To preserve your right to sue infringers in federal court, you are advised to take active steps to assert authorship of every work you create.

“These steps will include inserting meta-data in each work, marking each work with a copyright symbol and contact information and registering each work in commercial databases where infringers can search for your work.

“Ignorance of copyright law will be be no excuse against an infringer who has done a “reasonably diligent search” according to guidelines established by Congress.”

This should be the minimum warning information and it should be issued to the public on an on-going basis to alert successive generations of the legal obligations they will have to observe as the price of creating art of any kind. We also ask Congress to direct the Copyright Office to establish and maintain local law clinics where creators and other citizens can seek clarification about their obligations under Orphan Works law.

Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work

Tell Your Senators and Representatives to Oppose the Orphan Works Act

Illustration Friday-Baby

This is an illustration I did about a year ago for HR Magazine. It sort of ties in with this week's theme at Illustration Friday The image was one in a series that accompanied 3 articles on Employee Benefits. This one ran with a story on employee medical coverage and how it was becoming more difficult to find Obstetricians because fewer and fewer were being covered by insurance companies. Consequently, many just closed up shop.

Mari Adams was the art director on this project.

Below are some of the sketches.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

An Orphan Works Update From The Illustrator's Partnership

Backers of the House version of the Orphan Works bill are now asking artists and photographers to oppose the Senate bill unless it’s amended to contain at least the “minimum provisions” that appear in the House version.

Although they don’t say so, opposing the Senate bill in this manner is a vote FOR the House bill.

We’ve been asked to explain why:
The Senate bill is similar to the bill we opposed in 2006. The House bill (H.R. 5889) is the result of a year and a half of closed door negotiations between Congress and representatives and lobbyists for special interest groups. These groups have agreed to either endorse the House bill or remain neutral to insure its passage.

The House bill endorses the concept of coerced “voluntary” registration with commercial databases and seeks to make these databases infringer-friendly.

• It would require infringers to file a simple “notice of use” before they infringe.

• It calls for an archive of the notices to be maintained by the Copyright Office or an approved third party.

Why do backers of the House bill want these databases to be infringer-friendly?
Because to thrive, commercial databases (registries) will have to do a robust business in rights-clearing and orphan certification. That means encouraging infringers to infringe.

How will these registries work? No details have been given, but experience with image banks suggests the following:

For unregistered work: infringers will use the registries to identify pictures that aren’t registered. Infringers will probably pay the registry a search fee, then use or market the “orphans” like royalty-free art.

For registered work: the registries will act as a kind of stock house: Users will go to them for one-stop shopping to clear rights to your pictures. The registry will probably charge you a commission when they do.

In other words, urging Congress to pass the House bill makes very little sense to us unless your business or organization expects to become a commercial registry. We believe the only way to oppose these bills is to oppose them both.

If you agree, now’s the time to write Congress or write again.

Tell Your Senators and Representative to Oppose the Orphan Works Act

Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Use mass transit if you're heading to the World's Fair this summer

A new image is up on my homepage. It is partially inspired by my recently acquired subway map and the many trips to Flushing Meadows I've made on the 7 train.