Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work. Read even if you only post family photos online!
If I'm understanding this issue properly, there is a bill proposed (by big businesses, of course) about copyright issues with works of art and photography. While it definitely affects professional artists, it also affects the general public.
As I understand it, this bill was designed to protect those who want to use photos/art they "find". If they do a diligent search - as defined by them and the court if it goes there - to find the original artist or photographer and cannot, then they will be able to use the photograph in any way they choose, including advertising.
Presently, all works of art and printed words, are copyrighted as soon as we create them. We can register them, but the casual writer/photographer doesn't want to register everything they do. This bill will change that, for art works.
This should bother us all. If you have posted pictures on the Internet anywhere and a company finds a picture they like and they cannot find the original photographer, they'll be free to not only use that photo/art, but to have it registered with their copyright!
And not only that. If this succeeds, I wonder if they'll try the same thing with our words.
Below is the email I received. You can research this a bit more by clicking this link: http://www.illustratorspartnership.org/
And you can voice your displeasure with this bill by clicking the link that the Illustrator's Partnership of America has provided.
FROM THE ILLUSTRATORS' PARTNERSHIP
The Orphan Works Act: Warning to the Public
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
You can urge Congress to oppose these bills by linking here to a special letter. Tell Your Senators and Representatives to Oppose the Orphan Works Act at: http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/issues/alert/?alertid=11442621
Please forward this message to every artist you know. If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org Place "Add Name" in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area.
From what you've read above - and the Illustrator's Partnership of America web site, if you went there - am I wrong to be concerned?
Be sure to read this too: