Is it wise to concentrate our nations’ copyright wealth in the hands of a few corporate databases? With the meltdown on Wall Street, this might be a good time to ask Congress that question.
Here are some of the questions we’ve raised before about this bad legislative scheme:
• Who’s to be trusted with these databases?
• Who’s to manage them and in whose best interests?
• What happens when a database is hacked?
• What happens when one fails?
• What happens when one is acquired?
• What happens when the terms of service are changed?
• What happens when registration fees become prohibitive?
• What happens when maintenance fees are piled on?
• What happens when exorbitant commissions are imposed?
• What happens to artists who can’t afford to register?
• What happens when registered artists can’t afford to maintain their registrations?
• Will artists have to register their immense bodies of work in competing registries?
• What happens to your business when your clients start calling the databases, not you, to clear rights to your work?
• Why should small business owners be forced to entrust their business information to outside business interests?
In an excellent statement prepared for the Small Business Roundtable, August 8, 2008, David Rhodes, President of the School of Visual Arts said this:
“[S]ince the expense of registering works [with these for-profit databases] will be born by the creative community, the expense of copyright protection will be socialized while the profit of creative endeavors will be privatized.”
Sound familiar? As we watch CEOs with Golden Parachutes bail out of investment banks and the government saddles taxpayers with the financial burden of propping them up, we should remind Congress that the true definition of capitalism is not a lot of big businesses trying to gobble each other up or maximize profits by cutting corners. True capitalism is a lot of small business owners taking responsibility for their own decisions and accepting responsibility for their own failures. As David Rhodes went on to say:
“Copyright protection may have impeded the creation of ever-larger image banks, but that is not a problem – that is the purpose of Copyright. In short there is no problem that this legislation will fix. Therefore, prudence dictates that nothing be done.”
– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership