There's Always Someone: Photographers Against Orphan Works Legislation

from the perspective dept

One of the big problems with the repeated extensions of the length of copyright protection is that it's really an extremely small percentage of works that have an active market that long. Many of the other works have become "orphan works." Basically, no one has any idea how to reach whoever it is that might own the copyright. That's problematic, because that content is basically dead. No one can ever use it without, technically, violating copyright law. So, some people are finally trying to address this with some "orphan works" legislation that would basically let you use content if, after an exhaustive search, you couldn't find the owner. This seems like a reasonable thing to put in place -- barring more reasonable overall copyright law. And, honestly, you might wonder who would possibly oppose it? Photographers, apparently. They seem to think that this will allow people to make cursory searches -- and since many photos appear without attribution, people will be free to reuse them all the time. That, of course, isn't quite what the proposed legislation says. It supposedly puts in place a pretty high standard for anyone who uses supposedly orphaned works. Also, as Jerry Brito points out in the link above, if anything, this should just make more incentive for photographers to make sure their works are credited when used.


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    giafly, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 11:35am

    It's Supply and Demand

    Restricting the supply of existing photographs, because of legal hassles, increases the demand for new photographs.

     

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    knight37, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 11:51am

    People Already Do This

    This is already happening even if there isn't a law supporting it yet. Then when a copyright holder notices and cares, they take it down, or get sued. This is what Cease and Desist letters are actually good for. Sure, it would be nice to have a law, but photographers are fooling themselves if they think people aren't already doing it.

     

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      DavidT, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 2:54pm

      Re: People Already Do This

      >>Then when a copyright holder notices and cares, they take it down, or get sued

      "Take it down" doesn't work as well in the physical world as the Internet world. Once you've already printed a book, or made a film from historical clips, it becomes a lot harder to just remove the offensive bits.

      Remember the case about 12 Monkeys? An artist whose work was used (the chair) was able to enjoin distribution of the entire film until a settlement was reached. Running the risk that distribution will be enjoined after huge investments have been made is not a viable option for most publishers in the "real world"

       

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    ehrichweiss, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 3:05pm

    this is already kinda the case..

    I know that if the copyright owner, whether a corporation or estate/individual, ceases to exist without a clear successor for ownership, the copyright law states that it is an orphaned work and becomes public domain. This means that if I own copyright and then sell it to a publisher who then goes out of business without prior selling the rights to someone else, my work becomes public domain. The same goes if I die and have no family to inherit the rights, though I'm not certain it's clear if they have to be willed those rights(probably not since I'm sure Jimi Hendrix didn't write a will and his estate owns his work).

    I'm sure this legislation just makes it somewhat easier to get these works in the public domain but it seems redundant to me.

     

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    mark, Mar 5th, 2006 @ 12:06am

    No Subject Given

    I think the originator or the work has a responsibility to make sure their work is attributable. If the creator doesn't care enough, why should someone perform an exhaustive search for them? Communications has improved to the point where it should be possible to (insert favorite search engine here) it, and if nothing comes up, so be it. (Attribution could be a notarized original with the copyright date, or a witness's affidavit atesting to the work's originality.) Actually, the lawyers are going to make out like bandits no matter what....

     

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    G. Hegland, Mar 20th, 2006 @ 7:27pm

    Orphan Works Legislation

    "Also, as Jerry Brito points out in the link above, if anything, this should just make more incentive for photographers to make sure their works are credited when used. "

    What ever makes you think that photographers have that kind of power? Publishers ignore contracts from small businesses on a regular basis or rather what usually happens is you publish their way or the highway.

     

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    G. Hegland, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 12:32am

    Not an Orphan Works Amendment

    Not an Orphan Works Amendment.

    by Brad Holland


    March 21, 2006

    For over a year, we’ve used these emails to warn you about the coming Orphan Works amendment. Now it’s time to call it by its real name: This is not an “orphan works amendment.” An OW amendment would have applied to old work whose authors are hard to find. This proposal will apply to past, present and future work. It will be retroactive. It will interfere with working artists and commercial markets. It will nullify your exclusive rights to your work. It is the undoing of existing copyright law and it’s a challenge to the rest of the world to follow. If you’ve never cared about copyright law before, this is the time to start.

    The madcap rush to ram a bill through Congress suggests that there are special interests who want to get it on the books before it can be exposed for what it is. These special interests are still not happy with the Copyright Office’s proposal. They want no penalties for infringement or a cap no higher than $200. These groups are well-funded, well staffed and they’ll be lobbying full-time to get what they want. Congress has warned us that very little is negotiable, but this is not the time to lie down and die. Last Wednesday, the IPA filed written testimony with the House Judiciary Subcommittee. We’ll email you the text of that testimony tomorrow.

    -Brad Holland, for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership
    This may be republished, posted or forwarded in its entirety to any interested party.

     

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    G. Hegland, Mar 31st, 2006 @ 1:52am

    3.29.06-Video Webcast/Oversight Hearing on "Remedi

    For anyone interested in watching the March 29, 2006 Video Webcast of the Oversight Hearing on "Remedies for Small Copyright Claims" you can click below on the "House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, TheFor everyone interested in watching your government at work on the controversial issue of copyright concerns watch the March 29, 2006 Video Webcast of the Oversight Hearing on "Remedies for Small Copyright Claims". You can click below on the "House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, The Internet, and Intellectual Property" link. Look under HEARING DOCUMENTATION and then click on "Video Webcast". The complete video is 54:54 minutes long and uses RealPlayer.

    http://judiciary.house.gov/oversight.aspx?ID=226

    The four on the Witness List reading their statements and answering questions are:

    1.) Paul Aiken-Executive Director, Authors Guild.
    2.) Jenny Toomey-Executive Director, Future of Music Coalition.
    3.) Brad Holland-Founding Board Member, Illustrators' Partnership of America.
    4.) Victor S. Perlman-General Counsel and Managing Director, American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. Internet, and Intellectual Property" link. Look under HEARING DOCUMENTATION and then click on "Video Webcast". The complete video is 54:54 minutes long and uses RealPlayer.

    http://judiciary.house.gov/oversight.aspx?ID=226

    The four on the Witness List reading statements and answering questions are:

    1.) Paul Aiken-Executive Director, Authors Guild.
    2.) Jenny Toomey-Executive Director, Future of Music Coalition.
    3.) Brad Holland-Founding Board Member, Illustrators' Partnership of America.
    4.) Victor S. Perlman-General Counsel and Managing Director, American Society of Media Photographers, Inc.

    Thanks very much for posting this forum.

     

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    Lloyd Shugart, May 29th, 2008 @ 10:17am

    Orpahns are not Works of Art, they are someones children

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20080425/124144950.shtml#comments see attorney letter here comment 12 I wish you were in the real world. Meredith,http://maradydd.livejournal.com/374886.html?page=6#comments You do disservices to all that want important information on this future law. You hold yourself out to be the authority on the issues, yet you then say I am not an attorney, so don’t count on anything I say. I think you are the FUD whom is seriously confused. Before you discount me read the letter from an attorney below…whom for the record states the real issues. Next this bill if enacted into law most likely will be unconstitutional and will be challenged by a copyright owner who has the financial resources to see it to end. To all that read this, let me tell you I come from an experience that is real. I am in year 3 of a copyright litigation that, my legal bill now exceeds $500,000.00 USD. US copyright laws currently lack “MORAL RIGHTS”…. before any “ORPAN WORKS LAW” should be considered the copyright laws need to address at least “Mandatory Attribution” bc I don’t think that moral rights can be enforced by law. My case involves thousands of images that were marked with my “CMI” embedded into each and every image, with metadata….client removed said data, and then licensed my images to hundreds of third parties who then licensed my images to thousands of additional third parties under their “Affiliate Marketing Programs” So if you are an artist and are concerned with your artwork then you better be concerned with this proposed legislation, and the impacts it will have on your ability to sustain yourself. As an aside, although I was the copyright owner, I was the defendant in this lawsuit. I was forced to incur $500,000.00 USD in legal fees to protect my copyrights. As a result I now have thousands of images being used by thousands of people whom are all using my images to make money….they have not paid one red cent for these assets…I can not pursue each and every one of them….and those that I do can claim as a defense that the work is either in public domain or an orphaned work, or that it was an innocent infringement. How many of you readers have the kind of USD it take to protect your copyrights, even under the laws as they now stand? If the orphan works law passes as now proposed it will cost more to protect your rights both in real dollars and in your personal time, and emotions. Propet USA v. Lloyd Shugart WD WA. Federal Court Lloyd Shugart

     

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    Lloyd Shugart, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 10:03am

    Orphan Works

    http://community.nytimes.com/article/comments/2008/05/20/opinion/20lessig.html?s=2&pg=1 May 20th, 2008 5:30 pm Link I am a photographer who has worked for over 40 years. To a large extent, my retirement and estate will consist of the value of my copyrighted archives. The current proposals for the resolution of the "Orphan Works" problem will no doubt destroy much of the value of my work, since images can so easily be taken off the Internet, stripped of identification and distributed. This has happened to me. One image, which came to be important in the 2004 presidential campaign had been taken in 1970. It was stripped of copyright information and published over 400 times on the web. It was intentionally "orphaned". Many infringers did not even strip the copyright, they published it without permission or a license and claimed I shouldn't complain. "It is free publicity." My family doesn't eat publicity. The bill is a disaster for all intellectual property workers. If the government can list sex offenders and campaign contributors on the Internet, they should be able to manage copyright. — Leif Skoogfors, Philadelphia, PA Recommend Recommended by 9 Readers

     

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