The current May 17, 2008 U. S. Senate version of the “Orphan Works” legislation is a nightmare for artists.
Every country in the world currently recognizes an artist’s rights to their own work, with or without a formal copyright; all you need to do in the case of a dispute is prove that you did it first.
Leave it to the Legislative Branch of the USA Federal Government to attempt to pass a law requiring an artist to pay a fee to a Corporation in order to own something that already belongs to them!
Can you imagine the revenue at $5 a pop? It boggles the mind. King George never had it so good.
Here’s a draft of a letter concerned artists can send to their U.S. Senators:
Dear Senator ______________,
I am one of your constituents, a professional artist. It is crucial to my livelihood that you oppose the “Orphan Works” bill, H.R. 5889, in its current form. If this bill’s current language becomes law, it would permit, and even encourage, wide-scale infringements of my copyrighted artworks while depriving me of many of the protections currently available to me under the Copyright Act, including the right to ask the courts to award statutory damages and attorneys’ fees. In the publication world, the reality is that most artworks will easily become considered orphaned, depriving me of a significant part of my income.
I urge you to oppose this bill unless and until it is amended to contain at least the minimum provisions that are critical to protect artists, including but not limited to a notice of use that must be filed before the use is made, upon penalty of losing eligibility to claim orphan work status for failure to file the notice; an archive of the notices, to be maintained by the Copyright Office or an approved third party; and other protections that appear in the current (May 15, 2008) language of H.R. 5889.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide you with any additional information. Thank you for your time. I hope that you will take the necessary actions to protect my interests and prevent the passage of this bill until it is amended to be fair and reasonable to all parties.
Here is a web site that makes it easy to find contact information for your U.S. Senators.