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New “Improved” Orphan Works Bill due out next week

A “new and improved” Orphan Works Bill is expected to be introduced to the House and Senate next week. The original Orphan Works bill was meant to make it easier for corporations to use creative works without compensating the creator if the creator cannot be found. The problem that the legislation would have created is that it only required corporations to “reasonable diligent search” – a term that had no real definition. With such a lack of definition, copyright holders would have very little legal grounds to challenge a corporation for copyright violations.

The Illustrator’s Partnership of America is worried that many of the groups that have opposed this bill before have said they will not oppose this latest round.

Several groups which opposed the bill last time will not oppose it this time. They’re ready to concede defeat in return for concessions for their groups. They’ve also insisted that no other visual artists speak out against it. They say we must all capitulate in order not to endanger the concessions they want. They say we have to show Congress that artists speak with one voice: theirs. That creates a problem.

Not all visual artists have the same stake in copyright protection. Who owns the copyrights to your high school yearbook photos? Your wedding photos? Bar mitzvah pictures? How often has that ever been an issue?

If you are concerned about this legislation, please visit the IPA for the latest news regarding the Orphan Works bill.

Community Comments

#1 josh shalek
@ 10:03 am

Does the bill mention how hard the company has to look for the artist before stealing it? I’m thinking not very hard.

“Hey guys, I just found this anonymous comic on the internet! Let’s begin our national ad campaign!”

#2 beth cravens
@ 1:07 pm

Yeah, I’m with Josh on this. I make sure that all work is signed. I didn’t use to do that regularly (stoo-pid). I also have the website where I can be contacted. If all else fails they could just call the student loan company.

#3 GUDsine
@ 8:41 am

NO NO NO The beauty of this bill is that weather you sign your work or NOT if its not privately registered to a copy write company its fair game regardless of what you do. Under old legislation simply creating a piece of art work gave you an automatic copy write if you could prove it was yours and putting an official registered copy write allows you to take legal action, with out it all you can do is a cease and desist against the stealer. NOW with this new legislation if you dont PAY to register your copy write you lose ALL rights and it becomes an Orphan Works victim and can be not only CLAIMED by any one but REGISTERED by anyone who will pay and then guess what…YOU DONT OWN IT ANY MORE, THEY DO.

#4 Lee Mayer
@ 8:49 am

When did spelling and punctuation fall out of fashion?

#5 Dawn Douglass
@ 11:07 am

Geez, Lee, where have you been these last few decades?

#6 Dan Reynolds
@ 11:24 am

I’ve run into that when people use my work, I call them on it and they say they couldn’t find me.

It’s hysterical. There’s a thing we like to call GOOGLE. Type “Dan Reynolds” in it. I’m the first name to come up. Real hard.

I think if people are bent on using your work without paying, they will. Those people are the type who park in the handicapped spots,and throw garbaqe out their car windows…they just don’t care.

#7 Dawn Douglass
@ 11:49 am

Most cartoonists don’t make their names legible on each gag itself, which is just inviting people to steal it with that “I couldn’t find you” excuse.

95% of the gags I get passed to me via email have no discernable name on them.

#8 Mike Cope
@ 5:46 pm

Here’s a timely AP article entitled “US targets China, Russia, 7 other nations on copyrights” …


The Bush administration is accusing China, Russia and seven other nations of failing to protect American producers of movies, computer software and other copyrighted material from widespread piracy.

“Pirates and counterfeiters don’t just steal ideas, they steal jobs and too often they threaten our health and safety.”
(Susan Schwab, U.S. Trade Representative)

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