The Orphan Works Act currently before Congress basically gives the right to corporations to steal copyrighted works such as (but not limited to) photographs and paintings.
I can not for the life of me fathom why this bill was proposed, other than to make it easier for companies to steal intellectual property for use in their advertising. It simply makes no sense, otherwise. We have existing copyright laws which are designed to protect artists, and which still make it difficult to protect one's work. For both the House and the Senate to consider a bill which puts the burden of protection of every piece of created art squarely on the shoulder of the artist and to strip that artist of any kind of adequate protection - and indeed, make it very nearly impossible to protect oneself from copyright violation and theft - boggles the mind.
Lest one believe this law only applies to those who create art (in all its various forms), it will also affect anyone who has ever posted a photo of themselves or their family on the internet. Your vacation photos would be fair game and could be used by anyone for any purpose, without your permission and with little to no recourse for you to have the offender cease and desist. I realize that sounds alarmist, but it does happen. I have had my own vacation photos lifted right off of Flickr, where they were posted for my friends and family, not for the persons who used them to promote their own ideas and businesses. Consider for a moment a picture you took of your child (or even yourself or gramma) being used to promote a cause or product you do not believe in: abortion, say. Or used on a website promoting hatred. If you're a conservative, imagine your photo being used to promote an extremely liberal cause, one you are adamantly opposed to. Or if you're liberal, imagine it used to promote one of Bush's policies. That's not so far-fetched that it does not happen. I know several people who have posted images to Flickr which then ended up on websites they were adamantly opposed to. And those are photos with a clear copyright attached to the original image. If passed into law, this bill will make it virtually impossible to protect individual rights to copyright protection.
I can honestly think of no reason beyond corporate pandering for this law. Please take action to let your congressman/person know that the right of the people to create art trumps those who would steal that art. Current copyright laws do need to be amended to address the effect the internet has on intellectual property, but they need to be amended to protect *the copyright holder,* not to make it even easier to violate the artist's rights.
Please join me in taking action against this bill. The following link will take you to an action center. Please locate "U.S. Orphan Works Act of 2008" in the list (right now it's third), click the link, and fill out the form with your name and address. It will go automatically to your congressmen.
Thank you so much,
- 2005 Katie Doyle; all rights reserved
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