With everyone's eyes and ears pointed to the big meltdown on Wall Street, the Senate quietly passed the Orphan Works Act a few days ago... and we're VERY concerned about what this means for copyright law.
These organizations oppose the orphan works bill as it is written.
Read about why so many artists and small businesses oppose the bill here.
Tell the House Judiciary not to pass the bill now.
Here's an example of a potential scenario under the new legislation... yes, this may seem like an extreme scenario, but we think it is entirely plausible:
1. I upload a cute picture of my son:
2. The image gets separated from our website... perhaps a friend re-posts it elsewhere, it gets linked in an online image catalog, or some other innocuous event.
3. Then a 3rd party finds the image, and decides that they would like to use it for a commercial purpose (perhaps they've invented a new kind of toothpaste that cleans blue tongues).
4. That party tries to find the original creator (me) of that image so that they can request my permission to use the image (and pay me of course)... they rack their brain looking at old websites they have visited, in search of where they found that original photo posted... they call stock agencies and ask if they have any photos registered of kids with blue tongues...
5. Eventually, they give up... they've tried to find the author to ask permission, but could not find the author. THIS IMAGE IS NOW AN ORPHAN!
6. Now that my image is an Orphan, that person or company can use the image without worrying about having to pay me for violation of copyright.
Artists of all kinds (photographers, illustrators, musicians etc) who make a living from their art have their livelihood at stake, but this law does not just affect artists. If you post images or other creative works on the internet, you should be concerned. Please take the time to learn more about this bill, and take action to oppose it if you disagree with it. Here is a list of sample letters that you can send to your legislators - scroll to the bottom to use the sample letter written from a member of "the image-making public".
GovTrack.us. S. 2913--110th Congress (2008): Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation)