In Berne Convention, Copyright, Copyright Act, H.R. 5889, Orphan Rights, Orphan Works, S. 2913, TRIPS

Many artists have contacted us, asking if it’s time to write Congress about the new Orphan Works bill. No, Congress hasn’t released an actual bill yet and lawmakers tend to ignore letters when there is no bill.

But when we do ask you to act, it will have to be quickly. We expect a bill to be released after the Easter recess. Sources say it will be introduced in the House and Senate simultaneously, and fast-tracked for a vote in the House by mid-May. Advocates hope for swift passage before the summer recess.

The decision to introduce such a radical bill so late in the session is ominous. Because of fall elections, this will be a short Congressional year. Any bill not passed by the end of Congress will have to re-introduced in the next Congress. That means the bill’s sponsors must know they have their ducks lined up.

Of course, we can’t judge a new bill until we’ve seen it, but it appears that the new one will closely resemble the old one. So while we don’t recommend sending letters yet, it’s not too soon to start drafting them. Over the next few weeks, we’ll tell you more about the changed Orphan Works landscape. Then stand by.

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