In Artists Rights, Berne Convention, Copyright Act, Government Accountability, H.R. 5889, Illustrators Partnership, Orphan Rights, Orphan Works, S. 2913, TRIPS

Yesterday, many of us received a letter from our Senator, one of the most prominent lawmakers in the country, expressing his support for strong intellectual property rights protections as a necessary stimulus to creativity and entrepreneurship.

He stated that the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008, S.2913 “is currently being carefully considered by the Senate,” and he assured us:

“Members of my staff have met with representatives of artists and small business owners who have expressed many of the same concerns you mentioned. I will continue to closely study developments on this bill and I will work with both my Senate colleagues and the…artist community to ensure that any bill that is ultimately passed appropriately balances these competing concerns.”

We’ve written to the Senator to inform him that the Shawn Bentley Act passed in the Senate on September 28, 2008, by unanimous consent, including his.

Frankly, we don’t blame the Senator for not knowing that he’s allegedly consented to a bill that would strip his constituents of their intellectual property rights without due process. Considering the way this controversial bill was drafted behind closed doors and passed by hotline, we suspect many Senators aren’t aware that they’ve “consented” to this radical change to U.S. Copyright law either.

This makes it all the more important that the House not pass their version of this bill (H.R.5889) by a similar legislative maneuver.

Orphan Works legislation should be held over until the next Congress and subjected to an open and transparent public debate. Laws affecting the intellectual property rights of all citizens should not be brokered by lawyers and lobbyists in backroom deals.

Monday the Senate will convene for a lame duck session. A spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi confirmed yesterday that the House will convene on Tuesday. For now, the House is where we need to focus our attention.

House sources continue to assure us that Orphan Works is not on the agenda. However every prior effort to pass the bill by legislative maneuver was prefaced by similar assurances, so we believe it’s in our best interests to stay vigilant. We’ll update you as we learn more.

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

Starting Monday we’ll conclude our series of little known facts about this legislation.

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