In Artists Rights, Berne Convention, Government Accountability, Orphan Rights, Orphan Works, TRIPS

Wired Magazine has posted an article: “’Orphan Works’ Copyright Law Dies Quiet Death” Well, we can hope. But we’re dealing with a.) a fluid situation in Washington; and b.) special interests determined to pass this bill. So our assessment:

It’s not dead till it’s dead.

According to our DC sources, the most efficient way for Congress to pass this bill now would be for the House to scrap their own version and adopt the Senate’s. There are procedural ways they can do this. Some say they will; some say they won’t. It’s enough to know they can.

There are special interest groups promoting the House bill now: big stock houses, for example, like Getty and Corbis, and groups working with them. They want an infringer-friendly “dark archive,” a privately-owned “entity” sanctioned by the Copyright Office where infringers would file a notice of intent to infringe a work.

Since artists would not have access to this dark archive, the “sanctioned entity” would be of no use to us until our work has been infringed and we’ve file a case in federal court. And then it would mostly serve the interests of infringers – letting them prove in court they had done the minimal necessary paperwork before they infringed.

The important thing to remember about the House bill is that there is no protection for artists in it. It would simply give more middlemen a chance to profit from this gutting of copyright law.

We know it’s hard to ask Congress to focus on copyright law with a financial crisis looming. But we didn’t pick this fight and it’s our rights at stake if we don’t.

There is no national emergency for orphan works that requires Congress to pass this bill – which was drafted in secret – in the dark of night.

Please contact your House representative today. Tell them not to pass the House bill. Tell them not to adopt the Senate’s.

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership


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