In Berne Convention, Copyright, Copyright Act, Orphan Works, TRIPS

Dear Artist,

The Illustrators’ Partnership is submitting the following letter to the U.S. Copyright Office. We invite you to read it, consider it, and if you choose, join us in signing it.

The Copyright Office is seeking to examine the issues raised by orphaned works, that is, copyrighted works whose owners are “difficult” or impossible to locate. The “Orphan Work” study was announced January 27th, requesting written comments by March 25 from all parties who would be affected by a change in the law.

This study has been prompted in part by lawsuits filed by Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, a vocal leader of the international “Free Culture” movement. It’s the contention of this well-funded movement that copyright protection for creative work restrains creativity and free speech. They’ve embarked on a many-faceted effort to limit or roll back copyrights throughout the world.

The Complaints ask the Court for declaratory judgments that copyright restrictions on orphaned works violate the Constitution. A victory for the plaintiff would force works of art into the public domain even though their copyright has not expired if third parties wishing to exploit the work find it “difficult” to locate the copyright holder.

The following letter is long because we’ve tried to address the specific issues raised by these Federal challenges, but we hope you’ll take the time to read it. If you wish to join us in signing, please reply by e-mail with your full name and country. You may also add your expertise: commercial or editorial illustrator, cartoonist, architectural illustrator, dimensional illustrator, medical illustrator, painter, artist’s representative, etc. You may also add any professional affiliation(s).

With Kind Regards,

Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Illustrators Partnership of America

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