In Berne Convention, Copyright, Copyright Act, Orphan Works, S. 2913, TRIPS

We’ve just received word that the Senate bill has been put “on hold.” In fact, there appear to be multiple holds on it. Senators who “hold” hotlined bills do not have to identify themselves nor give their reasons for holding it. Holds are temporary. We don’t know how many of you contacted your Senators on such short notice this afternoon, but many, many thanks to all of you who responded so rapidly.

Most people are unaware of the process called hotlining. In the past it was used to pass non-controversial legislation, but increasingly, it’s being used to pass bills whose sponsors don’t want to see debate. An excellent article in Roll Call explains the process. Here’s an excerpt:

Senate conservatives are upset that the leaders of both parties in the chamber have in recent years increasingly used a practice known as “hotlining” bills – previously used to quickly move noncontroversial bills or simple procedural motions – to pass complex and often costly legislation, in some cases with little or no public debate. The increase was particularly noticeable just before the August recess, when leaders hotlined more than 150 bills, totaling millions of dollars in new spending, in a period of less than a week.

The practice has led to complaints from Members and watchdog groups alike that lawmakers are essentially signing off on legislation neither they nor their staff have ever read…

In order for a bill to be hotlined, the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader must agree to pass it by unanimous consent, without a roll-call vote. The two leaders then inform Members of this agreement using special hotlines installed in each office and give Members a specified amount of time to object – in some cases as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill is passed.

– From ‘Hotlined’ Bills Spark Concern
By John Stanton, Roll Call Staff
September 17, 2007
To read the full article, go to:

This is the second time the Senate Orphan Works bill has been hotlined this summer. The previous hotline came on June 5, the same week artists descended on Washington to urge lawmakers to oppose this controversial bill. The bill was put on hold that time too.

Since bills can be hotlined without prior notice, we’ll all have to stay vigilant throughout the rest of this legislative session. Thanks again to all of you who responded so quickly.

Over 60 organizations, representing more than 250,000 creators, are united in opposing these bills in their current form. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.
Read the list:

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