Share Your Thoughts on Orphaned Works Legislation

Last month, I listened to a panel discussion at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit. Ever since, I've been trying to put together a comprehensive post about "orphaned works" legislation currently pending before the US Congress. (Here's a link to the full text of the Senate version.)

The term "orphan works" refers to pieces of intellectual property for which copyright is indeterminable.

  • On one hand, you can imagine legitimate reasons for wanting to be able to display or disseminate artworks by unknown (and unknowable) artists without fear of legal reprisal. This site in particular is a big believer that, once you put it out there, it becomes part of the Great Internet Ether. The purpose of copyright law, after all, is to further creativity, not inhibit it.
  • On the other hand, we all know the attraction of public-domain art. It's remarkably easy for digital imagery, in particular, to get separated from the name of its creator. Who wouldn't want to stake an illegitimate claim on a really great piece of orphaned work just because, hell, it's a nice piece and who wants to pay the artist adequate compensation?

At the core of this concern are artist groups like the Illustrator's Partnership, which (while thoughtful) may -- by requiring that creative professionals register their works with a database to establish their ownerships -- place unfair and unrealistic responsiblity on the natural copyright holder.

How many readers of this blog would like to have to register every creation they make in order to protect their copyright over that work?

The situation is complicated as these things go, but there are a variety of artist groups who are working to oppose or amend the current legislation. And there are lots of resources out there that permit you to contact your congressperson and thereby share your take. (I gotta say though, it disturbs me a little that you can e-send a letter to your congressperson without, um, actually reading it. I trust the denizens of this Planet Deke to make thoughtful choices.)

Complex thoughts that I share with you this Tuesday . . .


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Lisa Sage and a few other

Lisa Sage and a few other members over at NAPP started this site to get the senators attention before its turns out to be a disaster in the making. Check it out. Jan

I'm not in the US, but...

It's my understanding that simply adding your name and a copyright sign on your work does not actually make it copyrighted work anyway, and that artists and photographers must actually register their work with copyright offices in order to be protected by law. So they already have an unfair and unrealistic responsibility wrt protecting themselves and their work. Photoshop User TV interviewed intellectual property attorneys Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki recently (episodes #141 & #142) and those guys gave out some valuable info regarding copyright law and protection. Of course, their advice was very US specific, and as I'm an upside down Kiwi I didn't listen as closely as perhaps I could have. But both those episodes are available through iTunes podcast subscription and well worth a listen, especially for you American creatives. :) By the way: when is Deke coming to New Zealand to host some Photoshop seminars? We get no Photoshop Guru joy down here! :(

MogoMedia has an event in Melbourne

Learn all about it at 'Course, that's a fair distance from New Z, but at least it's on the right side of the globe. But what do you need Photoshop gurus for? You have Flight of the Conchords. That should be enough. See? Photoshop gurus can't roller skate like that.

Love that schedule

It even includes "Lunch On Your Own". lol. How sweet. :) I have the entire Flight of the Conchords on DVD. Great series. Almost as good as your tutorial DVDs, Deke. (I'm such a suck up!).