::The Nine by Five::

This image is up for Auction at the Illustrators Australia 9 x 5 exhibition. Pre-bid (reserve $195) and vote in the People’s Choice award now! Auction 6pm Oct 2, 2008 @ Space 39, 39 Little Collins Street Melbourne. If you can make it I’d love to see you there.

This image may also be under threat of being deemed an Orphan work in the near future since the Orphan Works bill was hotlined last week. If you are an image maker of any kind eg:photographer/illustrator/artist/designer, etc you are doing yourself an incredible injustice by not reading up on this now. It may be happening in the US but that does not make us immune.

“Orphan Works: The Devil’s Own Day

Never Too Busy to Pass Special Interest Legislation

As lawmakers struggled Friday to clean up the mess on Wall Street, sponsors of the Orphan Works Act passed more special interest legislation. Their bill would force copyright holders to subsidize giant copyright databases run by giant internet firms.

Like the companies now needing billion dollar bailouts, these copyright registries – which would theoretically contain the entire copyright wealth of the US – would presumably be “too big to fail.” Yet it’s our wealth, not theirs, the scheme would risk.

Small business owners didn’t ask for this legislation. We don’t want it and we don’t need it. Our opposition numbers have been growing daily. So Friday, the bill’s sponsors reached for the hotline.”

Below is an explanation of the bill via the Illustrators Partnership Website :

Q What is the Orphan Works Act?
A: A proposed amendment to copyright law that would impose a radically new business model on the licensing of copyrighted work.

Q: How would it do that?
A: It would force all creators to digitize their life’s work and hand it over to privately-owned commercial databases or see it exposed to widespread infringement by anyone, for any purpose, however commercial or distasteful.

Q: How would it hurt me if I didn’t register my work?
A: The bill would let infringers rely on for-profit registries to search for your work. If your work is not in the databases, it’s a potential “orphan.”

Q: What about my unpublished work?
A: The bill would apply to any work, from professional paintings to family snapshots, home videos, etc., including published and unpublished work and any work ever placed on the internet.

Q: How would these databases work?
A: No one has yet unveiled a business plan, but we suspect they’d operate like stock houses, promoting themselves as one-stop shopping centers for licensing art. If you’ve registered your work with them, they’ll probably charge you maintenance fees and commissions for clearing your work. If you’re a publisher or art director, they’ll probably charge you search fees. If you’re an infringer, they’ll probably charge you a search fee and issue orphan certificates for any unregistered work you’d like to infringe. We assume different registries may have different terms, and any start-up terms will of course be subject to change.

Q: How will the bill affect the market for commissioned work?
A: It will be a gold mine for opportunists, favoring giant image banks over working artists. Some companies will probably sell access to orphans as royalty-free work — or they’ll harvest orphans and bundle them for sale as clip art. Other companies can harvest orphans, alter them slightly to make “derivative works” and register the derivatives as their own copyrighted product. Freelancers would then be forced to compete against their own lost art – and that of their colleagues – for the new commissions they need to make a living.

Q: But the bill’s sponsors say the bill is just a small adjustment to copyright law.
A: No, it’s actually a reversal of copyright law. It presumes that the public is entitled to use your work as a primary right and that it’s your legal obligation to make your work available.

Please go here for more info and here to do something about it.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Josh says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I followed the link and sent an email. This would really suck if it passed.

  2. innocentgirl says:

    Josh – that’s brilliant… glad I could alert you to it. Let’s fight the good fight!

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