Orphan Works Bill 2008…How will it effect YOU?

Have you been reading about the Orphan Works Bill? Well, this started out in 2005 and got shot down in 2006 in the subcommittees of both the House and Senate. Now, it's back and resurrected from the grave...back to haunt artists. Here's an overview from Wikipedia.

Here's the full text version from the House, The Orphan Works Act of 2008Bill # H.R.5889.

Here's the full text version of the Senate, The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008Bill # S.2913.

The House's IP subcommittee has already approved the Bill. That's one step closer. It's my thought, that sooner or later, a version (this one or another) will be enacted. My hope it will be a cleaner and better thought out version.

You ask how does this effect me...well, it does if you put anything up on the Internet regarding in regards to images or pictures. Under this Bill, you won't automatically have a copyright on your images any more. So if your pictures (family or business or even pics from your last vacation) is on the Internet, that makes them fair game for anyone to use in any manner they chose.

The pictures are considered "orphaned". Orphan equates to anyone can use them.

Currently, you now own the copywrite when they are posted on your blog or website or any place on the Internet. They are still considered yours and not 'orphaned'. All created work automatically has a copywrite. Under this Bill, you will not own the copywrite to any of your work unless you register them. That also means that each image will require a fee to protect the image. So the bottom line is that if you don't register them, they are considered public domain.

The issue, in my way of thinking, is that the Bill is intended to limit the liability for educators, museums, and libraries. Which I can understand. The reality is that it can be used by the fat pockets or greedy in our society as well.

I don't have the "OMG" attitude of many artists regarding the Bill. Even now, it takes some mighty deep pockets to protect intellectual rights to any work that is posted on the Internet. So to me, it levels the playing field a bit and puts everyone on their guard...Har-har. Yeah, right...and I have some swamp land for sale too.

The biggest issues is that the Bill is poorly defined. It's supposed to deal with older works/images (decades old) but it lumps all work together. So instead of calming the issues with older work, it just opens the field for more abuse. It even opens up the issue with commercial uses as well. There are many loopholes, even with the best written and well thought out Bill, to promote abuse. This Bill is a bit beyond mere loopholes. It opens up a vast subway system. It's not even a decent band-aide for which the Bill was intended.

The other issue that I see that intellectual property laws are already a bucket of worms. The Bill just adds more confusion to an already complex issue. That doesn't even touch the issues with International Copywrite Laws...mmmm, the bucket of worms just got a bit bigger. Didn't it?

Overall, laws are put in to action because of 'good faith' and to protect/serve the general public...the reality is that the 'opportunists' slice of our society can have a heyday with this Bill. So this Bill just doesn't effect artists. In reality it effect everyone and anyone that posts an image in the Internet. I foresee a huge number of repercussions for everyone...not just artists. The issue is that even though a law is enacted...it really isn't. It has to be fought out in the justice system as well. Look at Roe vs. Wade for example. The federal government has changed the ruling and has added extra limitations. Each state now has a version of the ruling. This is just one example of millions that take place.

For very interesting reading, take a peek at interview with illustrator Brad Holland. It's a bit eye opening of what can happen to artists with this Bill.

Here's links that you might just want to take a peek at too: http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/home/

If you get the chance, take a look at each of the Bills and make your own decision. Google it...think about it...read a bit more. That's what I did...then I added a bit of my personal experience...now I'm only beginning to understand the repercussions that can take place.

I'm not an intellectual property attorney...so anybody else have an opinion, I'd sure be interested.

After this post, still try to have a happy, creative day!