Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Artist group protests `orphan' copyright bill

I'm sure I'm violating some copyright law in posting this so let me say clearly this is from The Boston Herald. I believe this might be of interest to the Native American flute community as we create music, art, photos and many other things that might fall prey to this pending bill. There is also some links at the bottom for more information about this.
-Scott August

Artist group protests `orphan' copyright bill

By DAVID WILDMAN -- The Boston Herald , May 22, 2008 Thursday ALL EDITIONS

The Orphan Works Act seems innocuous enough: a federal bill designed to help museums and libraries use works of art if the creators are unknown, something they can't do under current copyright law.

Don't believe it, says a group of Massachusetts-based artist organizations and volunteer lawyers. They claim the bill now sailing through the House and Senate will radically restructure copyright law and infringe artists' rights.

``What they are doing is, in effect, reversing the order of copyright law,'' said Brad Holland of the Marshfield-based Illustrators Partnership of America. ``This bill shifts the presumption of ownership from the creator to the public.''

The bill was originally devised to help museums, libraries and documentary filmmakers access images and artworks whose author is unknown. For example, a museum with a collection of Depression-era photos could not put it on their Web site under current copyright law without getting permission from each of the photographers, which would be nearly impossible.

The Orphan Works Act solves this problem, but goes much further. It allows any work of art to be used for free by anyone who files notice that they are conducting a ``diligent search'' for the creator. It also calls for the creation of a privately run database where artists must register their work or run the risk of having it declared ``orphan.''

``It's like killing a mosquito with a machine gun,'' said Jim Grace of Boston's Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. ``I think it's being driven by commercial interests.''

Under this bill, artists would have to register their works for a fee to receive copyright protection that is now free. The database could be run by an Internet company such as Google (one of the bill's backers), which would stand to make a huge profit.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) declined to comment but released a statement: ``We have worked to strike the right balance to protect the interests of copyright owners and potential users of orphan works.''

``That's bull,'' said Cynthia Turner of the Illustrators Partnership. ``If they really wanted to create orphan works legislation to do what (Leahy) says, they could bring in new, spehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifcial, very defined uses. Latitude could be allowed in using works where the copyright owner couldn't be located or identified.''

In response to the outcry against the bill, U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Quincy) wants to give artists more of a say.

``It's been a while since we've heard from that many people from the artists community,'' said Mark Forest, Delahunt's chief of staff. ``If they're concerned, we're concerned.''

Contact your Rep Tell them you are against the Orphan copyright bill. You can email them or better yet, call them!

Copyright Clearance Center
U.S. Copyright Office page

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