Friday, October 31, 2008

*Important * USA Orphan Works Bill

As you know my blog is primarily textile and stitch related and I try to keep political debate at a distinct minimum but there is an issue pending that I feel needs to be addressed and at the very least, other artists need to be made aware of it. I have long tried to emphasize to fellow artists and my students as to the importance of respecting copyright. I have often taken a shit kicking for it too but feel very strongly about this subject and will continue to foster that respect and attempt to educate others about the legal issues that can ensue.

The Orphan Works bill in the US is a most controversial and complicated act , if which passed, will have ramifications affecting artists worldwide. I encourage my fellow artists to educate yourself on this issue and act with your conscience accordingly.

On April 24, 2008, the Orphan Works Act was introduced into the U.S. House and Senate. Currently, copyright is granted the moment a work is created. The Orphan Act Legislation proposes a change in U.S. copyright that would require artists, illustrators, photographers, and any creative individual to actively maintain and defend their copyright by registering each and every work with privatized registrars. Failure to do so would leave everything you’ve ever created as an artist up for grabs by anyone who wanted to copy, reproduce, create derivative works of, or flat out steal your work since the act defines an “orphan work” as any work where the author is unidentifiable or unlocatable, and applies to both published and unpublished works, U.S. and foreign, regardless of age..Once your piece of work is placed onto an Internet site; it will become the full domain of any person who wishes to copy your originality. A large majority of people who see a design, photograph, etc. will not take the time to research its original ownership, or see how long along this work was published. This is where as an artist you should be concerned, and unfortunately the Legislation of the Orphan Act of 2008, does not protect you as an individual.
( With special thanks and credit to Pamela Baker)

For a reasonably simple explanation of the bill, click the link below:

For my American friends to seek more information and how to contact your members of Congress to express your concern and/or protest the bill :

There is a page for international parties to send their thoughts and register their protests also and I urge my Canadian and European friends to participate if at all possible. Although at the moment, this legislation is US based, believe me in time this will have a powerful affect on all of us and our work and we will feel the trickle down effect worldwide! Click this link for international responses:

A word from Sara of Sara's Texture Crafts, with credit to Sara, on how to go about protecting oneself:

"I do feel the most important thing we can do as on-line sellers of arts and crafts (as well as opposing, or seeking more preferable amendments to such bills/laws as 'Orphan Works), is to start adding copyright 'watermarks' to our product/artwork images (completed or otherwise) before we post them to forums, social networks and shopping sites. That way it is clear where the design came from and the year it was created. Should you then wish to follow through on any unlawful copyright infringement, you the 'originator' will at least have some power to authenticate your claim. At the moment I see far too many photos of works that are unmarked by the artists... these could all easily be 'borrowed' for someone else's gain. Remember even if the text accompanying the photo in question contains details of the author/origin of the work. The photo itself can be downloaded separately from any blog, social network, forum, search engine and some websites... in these cases if a photo is unmarked it could easily be reused in another way without any credit to it's origin, becoming an 'Orphan Work'."

1 comment:

Robin said...

Thank you so much for all this information! I'm not very political, so tend to miss things like this. You gave many good suggestions for taking action!

Also thanks for the tips you gave in your comment on my last post about molding material. I will get it and give it a try!!!

Robin A.