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caramitten's avatar
The Orphan Works amendment to the US copyright law threatens to unleash a HUGE legal loophole that would put at risk EVERY ARTIST's creations.

As reported by many other artists on DA and elsewhere--this is FOR REAL.  You NEED to start emailing, faxing, and calling your Senators if you are an artist or a friend of an artist and get this amendment stamped out.

Here is a press release by the ASMP, as well as an easy-to-use Draft Letter for reaching Senators and Representatives.  I have also posted another draft letter on my own site below, and the Fax Numbers of Senators that are on the committee, deciding the fate of YOUR WORK.  So USE THEM. Fax them.  If you are a Canadian Citizen, there's info for you, too.

HERE. Do it NOW, while you're all riled up.

Do something and PASS THIS INFORMATION AROUND,  or else all our unique creations may be at risk.

Some Places of Interest:

The Downing Street Memo

Daily News and Headlines

Air America

Media Matters for America

Pseudo Manitou, Blog and Newsfindings
© 2006 - 2021 caramitten
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OllieTeo's avatar
Since you didn't answer my question.

"Yeah, well, if they're going to be dishonest and steal it that way, they'd probably do it now anyhow. Let's look at the differences.

1) They steal, don't get caught. They get away with it in both cases.

2) They steal, pass it off as their own and sell stuff using it. They get caught, artist sues for $$$ in both cases.

3) They steal it, aren't using it for money, get caught and claim they have the rights to use it. Artist threatens to sue, thief backs down because only an idiot would want to get sued for something they're not getting paid for. Outcome same, either way.

4) They steal it, aren't using it for money, and remove it promptly when caught. Under new rules, everyone goes their own way, problem resolved. Under old rules, original creator has the right to sue for stupid amounts of money despite no real harm done. Advantage: new proposed rule. "
caramitten's avatar
I didn't answer your question becaused I've been deluged with questions.

Simply put, this amendment leaves artists no recourse BUT to sue... and if you're an independent freelancer, your only choice would probably be small-claims court, where the damages are capped at $2000 (IF you win and there's no enforcement policy once the verdict is handed down.)

As I've said again and again..something DOES need to be done about orphaned works, but the legal loopholes in this legislation are much more threatening than your conclusions. In fact, freelancers aren't the only ones in trouble...this could very well cause big corporations to spend hours in court as well.
OllieTeo's avatar
er, no, seriously. What loopholes? Perhaps it's due to my lack of legal-speak, but I'm having trouble finding any outstanding loopholes that could allow such horrors of art thievery.
OllieTeo's avatar
Ummm...What loopholes?
caramitten's avatar
I'm not going to keep repeating myself. Here's part of a press release from the Illustrator's Partnership of America. You can find more info at [link]

> The Orphan Works Express
> Congress is scheduled to commence Orphan Works hearings the first week
> in March. They hope to pass legislation before the end of the year.
> According to a source on the committee, this proposal is being
> fast-tracked because lawmakers think it has wide-spread support within
> the creative community. We need to disabuse them of this notion.
> The spin that¹s being put on this legislation is shrewd. Special
> interest groups have re-defined copyright users as ³creators² of
> ³transformative works.² They're trying to persuade lawmakers that these
> ³creators² - and therefore, creators in general - are beinghampered
> because of obsolete protections on work which has ³little or no
> commercial value.² Yet the omnibus measures proposed in this Report
> would affect any work - old or new ­that¹s been published without
> identifying information. This would apply disproportionately to
> illustrations and photographs. We need to make it clear to congressmen
> that these interest groups do not speak for real creators and that our
> work has significant commercial value.
> Orphan Works legislation would be retroactive. This means that all the
> work you¹ve done during the last 28 years could fall into the Orphan
> Works category if it was ever published without ³relevant information²
> on it, was improperly credited or had been re-published by others
> without credit. In other words, it would take only one copy of any
> picture you¹ve ever done ­ published without ³identifying information²
> on it - or with that information removed by others ­ to justify an
> infringer¹s claim that he was unable to locate the author. The same
> thing would be true, of course, for future work.
> Disputes over infringement would have to be settled in court. (And
> remember, copyright law is a Federal law, which means Federal court.)
> The worst thing that could happen to an infringer ­if detected - is
> that a court might make him pay you a ³reasonable fee.² This means
> there¹d be no real downside for infringing. For 28 years (since the
> 1976 Copyright Act went into effect), you¹ve been told that your work
> was protected ³from the moment you put pen to paper.² No more. And
> artists who for 28 years produced work with the confidence that it was
> protected by that promise will find that the promise has been repealed.
> In effect, you could now be penalized for having believed what the
> government told you for the last three decades.
> The plan in a nutshell. For years, Free Culture advocates such as
> Creative Commons have been arguing that the US should lead the way in
> re-imposing copyright ³formalities² such as marking and registration.
> This would aid the spread of ³free culture² because most artists would
> fail to mark and register their work (or marks could be removed). This
> would make a vast number of illustrations and photographs royalty-free
> for anyone to use - or for companies like Google to sell access to.
> Unfortunately for the free culturists, the US can¹t re-impose
> formalities without violating or withdrawing from the international
> Berne Convention, which forbids formalities. And if the US did opt out
> of Berne, our country would effectively become a copyright outlaw. That
> would hurt American trade.
> So the Copyright Office has crafted their orphan works proposal as a
> ³limitation on remedies.² This would not re-impose formalities. But it
> would remove or emasculate penalties for infringement, potentially in
> any case where an illustration or photograph was published without
> ³relevant information² on the picture itself. In effect, this would
> force artists ­ as a hedge against infringement ­ to re-impose on
> themselves the ³formalities² the government can¹t. Any artist who
> didn¹t mark his work would expose it to no-fault infringement - a very
> clever way to re-impose formalities without actually putting it in
> writing.
DefilerWyrm's avatar
well, shit, this is no good. time to find a fax machine...though "where" is a good fuckin' question.
or if all else fails, the dreaded snail-mail.
Ahkahna's avatar
well fuck me. ;_;
klandagi's avatar
Bloody 'ell!! This is absolutely ricockulous...not ridiculous, ricockulous!!!!! Besides, don't they have better things to worry about and make laws about?! JEEZE! This is just bullshit though. I'm gonna' spread this as far and wide as I can and make everyone's phones ring on this one...@*&&#*@&*&@#

If things keep going the way they are in general in these 'oh so free' United States, I'm about ready to head to my own private island somewhere. Fuckers.

Riled up? You betcha! I'll be sure I put up a notice at the college today. Hopefully the art students and others will help contribute. Thanks for the info!
raptonx's avatar
It seems that copyright laws are only out there to protect those who have enough money to protect it. I'm getting just a little tired of them always trying to find new ways to screw us over.
Coolflm's avatar
This is BS ! I can´t imagine all the caos this thing is going to create if it goes on.....

Why do the government is ecen thinking about that!? what si worst is that it affects peopel around the worls and not just on the States.
Plus, imagine, if companies can get free art, even if is is really bad, they will stop paying for quality work....which will suck more.

>:( I hate goverment more now. Hope they fix the problem this time.
WatergazerWolf's avatar
Thanks for the draft letter! I'll fax to as many people as possible.
I don't know about anyone else, but to me this seems like they're trying to remove the clause in copyright law that says you own the copyright automatically, regardless of registration. Although I agree that it's ridiculous, wouldn't calling the Copyrights office and having them check for any existing ownership be at least a minimum check?
avitalspark's avatar
well I'll be damned.

it's like legalizing art theft nationwide.

the documents make it sound like copyrighting your works isn't worth it; should I still be considering doing that for the apparent minimal 'protection' it implies?

thanks very much for bringing this to my attention. I haven't heard anything about this until now.

good luck (:
ahuizotl3's avatar
I won't reply this again, please somebody go to WIRED NEWS website and do a humble serach about the topic. You will find that article about an old couple that can't get repaired and restored their wedding photo... not because they can't pay for it, because some company feared of the Orphan law consequences and brought all the portfolio of the photographer who did made the wedding photo. So if they get repaired the photo they can be sued with $20,000 USD. So this is a good case for ban the Orphan law?

Another fine example of the dark side of the anti-Orphan law is Harold Lloyd, do you know him? Maybe no, because a company called Hallmark brought all his movies, and now you must cough money for even *write an article* about him.

So what's wrost? The orphan law or the comapnies that buy art and hide from people in name to "save" the works of the orphan law? At this rate made an historical compilation of furry art will fined with millons of dollars.

Harold Lloyd (c) Hallmark Multimedia/Hallmark Inc, the use of this copyrighted character was made in the concept of crestimatia, none commerical use was made with it.
caramitten's avatar
Don't get me wrong, something definitely NEEDS to be done about orphaned works, but this is not the way. It leaves artists no recourse left but to sue, usually in small claims court, where the damages--IF you win--are capped at $2000, and there is no enforcement policy after the verdict is passed down.
ahuizotl3's avatar
If you see my site, I'm one of the few people out there that put things like "This icon belong to X and I asked him/her permission before post here". So I play fair about give credit to artists. The last info I got was from Wired News about that wedding photo and their big trouble about the anti-Orphan law and I think that none of both laws are ok (either "free-for-all" or "buy art for profit" laws). Is ok that you call for a massive reject of the law, just don't replace it with another draconian-kafkian law.

I just can see from outside since I'm not American, good luck.
OllieTeo's avatar
You know, there's probably a lot more potential damage than potential gain from this law being passed, right?
ahuizotl3's avatar
I just fear that if the law becomes approved in USA, your goverment try to made it world-wide. But i see that is something than nobody can stop, I don't say that piracy is ok. But that people specially in USA abuse a lot of laws. So ok, no more public domian stuff is available. I wonder how this will hurt the historic records in the future when you can't do anything because you can't check if the work is Orphan or copyrigthed.

Also I do not need more bashin from Americans.

Ah and an apology, in the future I'll avoid to comment about USA topics.
OllieTeo's avatar
About the historic work parts, once something reaches 70 years of existence (or around there), it goes into public domain.
LilAngelWings014's avatar
What the hell is wrong with this country?! There is no respect, no honor left. Our government only cares about money and how many buisiness men they can suck up to!

deforestation in "no road zones", removing animals from the endangered and threatened species act knowing that the areas people are desperate to slaughter them, and now this?! Why is it always art that gets the boot when money is in question? Damnit! Im studdying my ass of to be an art teacher and spread the wonder of creation to young minds and in so many states, its the first subject to be removed from the curriculum...and now, not that it wasnt hard enough as it is, if this law passes, I dont doubt Ill be out of a job cause no one will want to create anything they put their souls into to only have their name erased and their art stolen....

I know I may be a bit off here, but I do understand whats going on and Im just
%*^&*$! ARGH!
dracontes's avatar
I am definitly worried since of all things I display my work on american websites or websites subjected to american laws.
Being Portuguese makes it difficult to berate this asinine idea directly but I guess banging at both the doors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Embassy at Washington and probably sending "carbon copies" to the European Commission and its ilk, so they don't start having similar ideas, would be a good starting point, don't you think?
caramitten's avatar
Excellent ideas, yes!
lmai's avatar
Dont know how well a Canadian's voice would be but I wrote something since my artwork is displayed on american websites.
caramitten's avatar
Awesome, good for you! Thanks for taking action :D
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