In H.R. 5889, Orphan Works

Dear Honorable ______________,

As an artist and a small business owner, I’m writing to oppose H.R. 5889, the Orphan Works Act of 2008 as currently drafted. Please support the amendments submitted jointly by the Illustrators’ Partnership of America, the Artists Rights Society and the Advertising Photographers of America.

Otherwise, please do not vote this bill out of committee until Congress can hold proper hearings into the harm it will do to small businesses, individual creators and ordinary citizens.

While I support a bill that would give libraries and museums a legitimate expansion of fair use, H.R. 5889 is far too broad. It would cause trillions of dollars of private property to be transferred into the control of a few corporate databases with no guarantee as to how these assets will be protected, used or abused. It will undermine the passive copyright protection that all citizens now enjoy – and that threatens individual creativity, freedom of expression and the right to privacy embodied in copyright law.

There is no reason for the reckless scope of this bill. It is based on a Copyright Office study of orphaned work. Yet it will permit the infringement of contemporary work by creators working in today’s commercial markets – a subject the Copyright Office never studied. Its stated purpose is to let libraries and museums digitize their collections and let ordinary folks duplicate family photos. But these modest goals can be met with a modest expansion of Fair Use. I do not believe citizens should have to hand over their personal intellectual property to a few corporate special interests. The unintended consequences of this bill could be a rights grab of monumental proportions.

Please look behind the talking points of the special interests promoting the Orphan Works Act. Do not support a major revision of copyright law without an open, informed and transparent public debate.


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