April of 2008 a Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill known as the Orphan
Works Act. Orphan Works are works whose
rightful copyright owner cannot be identified. The Orphan Works Act of 2008
does the following:
- It changes the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act, and makes it
virtually impossible for artists to protect their work. It allows anyone to use a design without
the copyright holder's permission.
- It requires artists to attempt to protect their work by
registering it with a digital database system (presumably for a fee, in
addition to the copyright filing fee) when no such system currently
- It eliminates statutory damages wherever an infringer
can successfully claim an Orphan Works defense, thus eliminating the only
tool the law provides to prevent deliberate infringement.
- It allows for an infringer to create and copyright a
derivative work from the original design.
- It leaves infringing works (and products incorporating
them) subject to seizure in other countries.
the legislation was introduced the Craft & Hobby Association along with the
Graphic Artists Guild and George Little Management, hired lobbyist Megan Gray
to work on their behalf. She has spent
an inordinate amount of time writing to diverse industry associations in the
plethora of visual art enterprises to alert them to the legislation and to
invite them to help fund this expensive lobbying endeavor. She has also held in-person meetings with the
Copyright Office multiple times, with Senate offices on the key Judiciary
Committee, House of Representative offices on the key Judiciary Committee and
with more than 10 additional Hill offices that will play important roles as the
legislation moves through to enactment.
In addition Ms. Gray has met with Senators, has scheduled meetings with
Representatives, has met with stakeholders on all sides of this issue, compiled
state-specific handouts on the importance of the visual arts industries,
visited trade shows, published articles, given presentations and worked with
bar associations to draft appropriate resolutions regarding "orphan
Orphan Works Act will have a devastating effect on the craft and hobby industry
especially artists, manufacturers and the entire art licensing community. This bill will nullify exclusive rights to
artwork, which will be detrimental for everyone involved in creating art and
manufacturing products featuring art.
The bill does not even contain a "notice of use" provision,
which means that copyright owners can do nothing to prevent their works from
being commercially exploited as supposed "orphans".
bill is now on its way to the Senate floor for a vote by the full Senate. CHA
urges its members to take action! Write
to your senators, asking them to halt all progress on the bill until it is
amended and ask them to vote against the bill if it is NOT amended to protect
visual artists and to include, at a minimum, a publicly accessible "notice
of use" filing.
Letters to senators should include in the first paragraph information
regarding the writer (especially noting if he is a constituent), the name of
the bill ("The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008" S. 2913), and the writer's position,
particularly as to the "notice of use" provision.
link below can help you get started.
Click on the link for a sample letter to use. You may also personalize your own
letter. Just by taking a few minutes of
your time, a letter will automatically be emailed to the US Senate. We recommend you also print out the letter
and mail it.
Take action by clicking here
addition, as of mid-May 2008, the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual
Property and the Internet has approved an "orphan works" bill that is
an improvement over past bills and which contains a "notice of use"
provision. However, this "notice of
use" is not publicly accessible for review by copyright owners. Even in its hidden role, many stakeholders
are fighting to strip this provision to the bill. The visual art groups are, of course,
fighting to keep it in and to make it an open archive. The next step in the process is unclear, as
the bill's sponsors have indicated that they will be working to address a
variety of provisions. At some future
point, it is expected that the bill will be presented to the House Committee on
the Judiciary for a vote, perhaps in amended form. Once it is more apparent what the Judiciary
Committee will be presented with, the Craft & Hobby Association will alert
its members and recommend action as may be appropriate. In the meantime, Megan Gray will continue her
extensive efforts to influence the legislation.
you for taking the time! Together we can
make a difference.
of Senators and District Office addresses:
Works Opposition Headquarters