Friday, June 13, 2008

My meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer

This afternoon while returning home I ran into Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). He was standing on the corner of my block and had just finished filming an interview with Channel 4. Immediately after he took time to greet the crowd of about a dozen that had assembled to watch.

Just before he departed I had a chance to ask him about the pending Orphan Works Act before Congress. The senior senator from New York told me he was unfamiliar with the legislation. I told him Sens. Leahy and Hatch had introduced it, that it was about freeing up copyrights for public institutions to use. I also mentioned that the way the bill was worded it represented a threat to my livelihood as well as the many other artist working in Brooklyn and New York. He asked if I was against the bill. I said yes. He then began to tell me to contact his office, but then said, "I can remember that. Orphan Work. Leahy and Hatch. You're against it." He thn stepped into a black Town Car and was off.

I'll still going to follow up with his office. If you would like to tell Sen. Schumer or any of the other members of the Unite States Senate to oppose the Orphan Works Act click here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Visual Artists Go to Washington; Independent Record Labels Oppose Orphan Works Act

Last week over two dozen visual artists, representing illustrators, photographers, fine artists and the arts licensing trades went to Capital Hill to explain to legislators how the Orphan Works Act will harm creators and the hundreds of thousands of art-related small businesses that serve and are dependent on them. At the same time, independent music labels have joined the opposition to orphan works legislation as it currently exists.

The Illustrators’ Partnership has stressed that Orphan Works legislation should be limited to true orphaned work and not act as an unwarranted compulsory license imposed on commercial markets. IPA, the Advertising Photographers of America and the Artists Rights Society have joined to offer amendments to that effect.

Excerpted from the Washington Internet Daily/Monday June 09, 2008:

The visual-arts community hit the Hill last week to protest what it portrays as a hijacking of the orphan-works issue as it was presented in a 2005 Copyright Office report...

The Copyright Office ran a bait-and-switch from its 2005 notice of intent, which focused on facilitating libraries', museums' and other nonprofits' efforts to digitize collections to improve access to them, [Illustrators’ Partnership co-founder Brad] Holland said. Artists want the issue narrowed back to that focus, scrapping commercial use, he said...Copyright Office roundtables on orphan works never addressed alternates to registries, an "untested, untried, unaccountable market system" favoring Google, Getty, Corbis and other commercial aggregators, Holland said. [Cynthia] Turner [also of the Partnership] said artists would incur high costs registering works, and they hesitate to hand over high-res, commercial versions to Google or others.

In the same article, Washington Internet Daily also reports that the leading group of independent music labels has broken with the corporate music trade associations. The American Association of Independent Music has published a position paper opposing the current orphan works bills. The article quotes a music industry executive: "I can tell you that nobody in the music business" sought the bill.

... the executive said the bill is "de facto... establishing a new compulsory license" by putting unregistered artists at a legal disadvantage in court. The law can't explicitly require registration or it will violate the Berne Convention, TRIPS and other treaties the U.S. has signed, the executive said. Book publishers and music executives in the U.K. think the U.S. will be in trouble, the executive said, citing a recent visit: "I can tell you there are European commissioners that are looking at this right now."

-Excerpts from “Orphan-Works Bills Scorned by Visual Arts, Indie Labels” by Greg Piper, Washington Internet Daily June 09, 2008

Also see Visual artists and indie record labels voice concern over orphan works bills