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  1. #1

    Artist warning: The Return of Orphan Works Part 1: "The Next Great Copyright Act"

    Heyo

    I'm sharing this far and wide

    From the Art PACT facebook page:

    https://www.facebook.com/Pactartist/...nf&pnref=story


    Artists Alert: From the Illustrators Partnership
    The Return of Orphan Works
    Part 1: "The Next Great Copyright Act"
    JULY 1, 2015


    For more than a year Congress has been holding hearings for the drafting of a brand new US Copyright Act. At its heart is the return of Orphan Works.
    Twice, Orphan Works Acts have failed to pass Congress because of strong opposition from visual artists, spearheaded by the Illustrators Partnership.
    Because of this, the Copyright Office has now issued a special call for letters regarding the role of visual art in the coming legislation.
    Therefore we're asking all artists concerned with retaining the rights to their work to join us in writing.

    When and Where
    Deadline: July 23, 2015
    You can submit letters online to the Copyright Office here.
    Read the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry.
    Read the 2015 Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report.

    Here are the Basic Facts
    "The Next Great Copyright Act" would replace all existing copyright law.
    It would void our Constitutional right to the exclusive control of our work.
    It would "privilege" the public's right to use our work.
    It would "pressure" you to register your work with commercial registries.
    It would "orphan" unregistered work.
    It would make orphaned work available for commercial infringement by "good faith" infringers.
    It would allow others to alter your work and copyright these "derivative works" in their own names.
    It would affect all visual art: drawings, paintings, sketches, photos, etc.; past, present and future; published and unpublished; domestic and foreign.

    Background
    The demand for copyright "reform" has come from large Internet firms and the legal scholars allied with them. Their business models involve supplying the public with access to other people's copyrighted work. Their problem has been how to do this legally and without paying artists.
    The "reforms" they've proposed would allow them to stock their databases with our pictures. This would happen either by forcing us to hand over our images to them as registered works, or by harvesting unregistered works as orphans and copyrighting them in their own names as "derivative works."
    The Copyright Office acknowledges that this will cause special problems for visual artists but concludes that we should still be subject to orphan works law.
    The "Next Great Copyright Act" would go further than previous Orphan Works Acts. The proposals under consideration include:
    1.) The Mass Digitization of our intellectual property by corporate interests.
    2.) Extended Collective Licensing, a form of socialized licensing that would replace voluntary business agreements between artists and their clients.
    3.) A Copyright Small Claims Court to handle the flood of lawsuits expected to result from orphan works infringements.

    In your letter to the Copyright Office:
    It's important that lawmakers be told that our copyrights are our source of income because lobbyists and corporation lawyers have "testified" that once our work has been published it has virtually no further commercial value and should therefore be available for use by the public.
    So when writing, please remember:
    * It's important that you make your letter personal and truthful.
    * Keep it professional and respectful.
    * Explain that you're an artist and have been one for x number of years.
    * Briefly list your educational background, publications, awards, etc.
    * Indicate the field(s) you work in.
    * Explain clearly and forcefully that for you, copyright law is not an
    abstract legal issue, but the basis on which your business rests.
    * Our copyrights are the products we license.
    * This means that infringing our work is like stealing our money.
    * It's important to our businesses that we remain able to determine
    voluntarily how and by whom our work is used.
    * Stress that your work does NOT lose its value upon publication.
    * Instead everything you create becomes part of your business inventory.
    * In the digital era, inventory is more valuable to artists than ever before.
    If you are NOT a professional artist:
    * Define your specific interest in copyright, and give a few relevant
    details.
    * You might want to stress that it's important to you that you determine
    how and by whom your work is used.
    * You might wish to state that even if you're a hobbyist, you would not
    welcome someone else monetizing your work for their own profit
    without your knowledge or consent.

    Because this is a complicated issue, we'll follow up next week with some expanded thoughts of our own.
    - Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner
    for the Board of the Illustrators Partnership

    The Illustrators Partnership has filed multiple papers with the
    Copyright Office regarding this issue.
    You can download them from the Copyright Office website:
    Remedies for Small Copyright Claims
    January 17, 2012
    Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
    Initial Comments, February 3, 2013
    Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
    Reply Comments, March 6, 2013
    Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
    Additional Comments, May 21, 2014
    Please post or forward this artists alert to any interested party.

  2. #2
    feline fine Noxid's Avatar
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    And what exactly is the problem with orphan works?
    where the original copyright holder no longer exists or cannot be found to uphold their claim, why should people still be kept from creating their own derivative works?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Noxid View Post
    And what exactly is the problem with orphan works?
    where the original copyright holder no longer exists or cannot be found to uphold their claim, why should people still be kept from creating their own derivative works?
    There is more to it than that. As stated.

    "The Next Great Copyright Act" would replace all existing copyright law.
    It would void our Constitutional right to the exclusive control of our work.
    It would "privilege" the public's right to use our work.
    It would "pressure" you to register your work with commercial registries.
    It would "orphan" unregistered work.
    It would make orphaned work available for commercial infringement by "good faith" infringers.
    It would allow others to alter your work and copyright these "derivative works" in their own names.
    It would affect all visual art: drawings, paintings, sketches, photos, etc.; past, present and future; published and unpublished; domestic and foreign.
    Do you freelance for a living?

  4. #4
    feline fine Noxid's Avatar
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    Forgive my skepticism, but I have a limited understanding of Orphan Works policies based on some of my own research. I know that the united states currently exists as a 'grey area' in this domain, whereas several other countries have some sort of policy on the matter.
    For example, I'm in Canada, and broadly speaking the law here is such that if the copyright owner is unknown or cannot be located, then you may apply for a license from the copyright board to distribute this work. If they copyright owner appears within 5 years of expiration of the license, they may claim any royalties due as set out by that license [src]

    Now, I haven't read anything about this new proposal but I'll try and look it up. I'd need to see some kind of basis for these somewhat exaggerated claims of "forcing artists to register their work" because unlike patents you by default own the copyright on any creative work you produce afaik, and usually until you die and plus very long time after that.

  5. #5
    This is not anything new. Just because you have not heard of it. Nor are these claims exaggerated.
    Twice this act has failed to pass congress due to opposition from visual artists.

    I suggest you contact the Art PACT team with your concerns. I'm putting this up to get the word out that for the 3rd time this issue is being brought forth. Its not a new struggle at all, but its an important issue for a lot of artists at the moment who are earning a living as freelance illustrators. Thats why I asked if you freelance for a living. A lot of working artists and long time stalwarts are discussing this, again.

    The PACT homepage https://www.artpact.com/
    Last edited by Tiamat; 07-06-2015 at 05:22 PM.

  6. #6
    feline fine Noxid's Avatar
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    Alright, I've done a little more research and come to some conclusions of my own. I'll outline them in brief, and then be on my way because honestly this isn't my domain of expertise and the extent of my caring about this issue extends about as far as giving me a reason to write opinionated posts on web forums.

    1. Copyright law in the US is slightly more jacked up than Canada, because the concept of a "poor man's copyright" doesn't apply. In Canada registration of a work is not required to be protected under the copyright act, it just makes an easy way to prove that you are the copyright holder. [src]
     
    Registration is not required for protection in Canada. However, a certificate of registration of copyright is evidence that copyright exists and that the person registered is the owner of the copyright. Copyright exists automatically when an original work or other subject-matter is created, provided the conditions set out in the Copyright Act have been met.


    2. copyright law is a goddamn mess

    3. When filing a civil action under the copyright act you may at the discretion of the court be allowed the full recovery of any costs, including a reasonable attorney fee [src]

    4. the proposed legislation for orphan works seems to put more burden on the applicant than the copyright holder[src, may be biased but idk], and in the US you need to be registered /regardless/ or else people can infringe upon you with impunity so I don't see the big deal with orphan works anyway.

    5. Existing orphan work policies in other countries seem to be sparsely utilized anyway, and when they are it largely pertains to the reprinting of books by libraries or educational institutions. [no source, just my impression after reading a bunch of articles]


    I'm all for people being able to protect their creative and intellectual property but I'm also supportive of the concept of orphan-works legislation in general. Works where no copyright holder can be found and no existing publication is being made exist in a legal black hole where nobody can really use it for fear of a claimant appearing out of nowhere and claiming damages on them. Orphan works laws shouldn't be of big concern to copyright holders who are active and make their copyrights plainly known because then it isn't really an orphan work anymore. And if you're dead or something well... you probably weren't gonna use it anyway ;3
    Last edited by Noxid; 07-06-2015 at 06:39 PM. Reason: clarification

  7. #7
    I find it especially frightful that this is the first I'm hearing of this, when it's apparently the THIRD attempt to get this bullshit passed.

    What I don't get very clearly is .. they could seize my art, even though I'm a foreign artist. So I'd have to get it registered in the US, or else allow people to make use of my "orphaned works"? Because if so: yeah no, fuck that shit. My art is not orphaned just because I can't file to register it in the US from all the way from Belgium.

    EDIT: because especially with pixel-art: you can't sign your work, not properly. And I've already noticed with Tumblr how easy it is to disconnect pixel-art from its creator. To forcefully "orphan" it, so to speak. This is legit terrifying for me. :I

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Noxid View Post
    Alright, I've done a little more research and come to some conclusions of my own. I'll outline them in brief, and then be on my way because honestly this isn't my domain of expertise and the extent of my caring about this issue extends about as far as giving me a reason to write opinionated posts on web forums.
    Yeah, I'm getting that. But I appreciate your posts anyway...

    EDIT: because especially with pixel-art: you can't sign your work, not properly. And I've already noticed with Tumblr how easy it is to disconnect pixel-art from its creator. To forcefully "orphan" it, so to speak. This is legit terrifying for me. :I
    Some folks are stating that art theft will always be with us. No argument there...but why give them the platform to start making it official? This will gum up the works of an already complex system and the only ones that will really have to sweat are the artists.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiamat View Post
    Some folks are stating that art theft will always be with us. No argument there...but why give them the platform to start making it official? This will gum up the works of an already complex system and the only ones that will really have to sweat are the artists.
    At least at the moment you have tools to get people to back off from using your work for profit. Make it legal and you'll probably have a lot of artists who just won't post their pieces online anymore, for fear of them being yanked away from them, reworked and sold for profit.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Hardrockangel View Post
    At least at the moment you have tools to get people to back off from using your work for profit. Make it legal and you'll probably have a lot of artists who just won't post their pieces online anymore, for fear of them being yanked away from them, reworked and sold for profit.
    That is one of the fears. It has the potential to be quite hurtful and at the least, costly. Both in terms of time and money. It is a serious deal, unfortunately some people are having a hard time grasping the potential consequences. As one young artist told me "too much legal jargon" which is why PACT is breaking it down for folks and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

 

 

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