Friday, May 30, 2008

Orphan Works Bill

I can't believe the number of emails I have received to date on this bill. All "alarmists" trying to convince me to immediately write my congressman in protest of this bill.

When I look at their sites....everything is their interpretation of this bill.

No one really references any actual lines in the bill.

Everyone claims this bill will be the end of "art".

So enter me! Always the "Libra" - the "balanced" one who weighs the pros and cons of each argument. The one who tries to see both sides of the bill.

I once spent weeks trying to track down the owner of a very old family photograph. I spent tons of money on long distance calls to the midwest. The end result...the photographer was deceased and had no heirs. And then I had to take the time to write up my research in order for the book to publish the project I used the photo in. All that time wasted when I could have been out shopping, buying more product, helping to keep a local store in business! LOL!

Imagine my consternation when I had to go through the same process to find the photographer who took photos of my 1977 wedding. Dead again. Heirs could give a flip about giving permission and were, in fact, upset that my ex-mother-in-law contacted them at my request.

Seems to me like this is perhaps the true intent of this law? I don't see this as a violation of an artist's rights....but rather elimination of useless work and interruption of the lives of the descendants of someone who photographed a shot 100 years ago.

Just my own personal take on this law. As a former policy interpreter for the federal government, I also well know that one sentence written by congress can result in 6" of manuals filled with policy and procedures on that one line! Without the additional policies that are written due to court interpretations of that one line of legislation!

An orphan work is a copyrighted work where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder. HA! I have made it so incredibly easy to contact me! Yet I know there are those who see my projects online, use them, and never ask my permission.

Here's an example: Mom paints a painting and does not sign it. Someone buys it, passes it on, the next person sells it and in a couple of generations, no one will know the artist. That's an "orphan work".

It should then be made property of the public, for the public to use. Why not? It was not signed. There was no annotation on the back of it as to who made it. Quite a bit different from me signing every piece and adding the year to it. Quite different from me having a blog and a website where I have posted that all works are copyrighted.

And there's one more reason to support this bill. Think about the works of art, film, books, etc that are in hundreds of storage rooms in museums and libraries across the nation. They go unused because of current law. With an Orphan Works bill....we all could enjoy their beauty.

Yep, send me your emails and ask me to oppose this bill. I will simply reply with a link to this blog in the hopes that you will think about both sides of this proposed legislation. My "art" is really nothing compared to what I imagine is locked up in vaults in museum basements. I, for one, would love to have the chance to see it in my lifetime.

No comments: