Tom Richmond on the latest Orphan Act

MAD Magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond takes issue with an article written by Meredith L. Patterson entitled “Six Misconceptions About Orphaned Works” and why artist have no need to fear the 2008 version of the Orphan Works bill that is making its way through Congress.

A week or two ago I found this sarcastic but reasonably well written and equally misguided “Six Misconceptions about Orphaned Works” post that tries to debunk the proposed Orphan Works legislation as not being the monstrosity creators think it is. The author is incredibly naive in that she believes the Orphan Works bill won’t change US Copyrights in a fundamental way, and she cites current copyright law in her debunking attempts when those laws will no longer apply in several real ways if the Orphan Works bill becomes law. She sees it as a way to be able to archive and possibly preserve works that would otherwise be lost in time because they are truly “orphaned”, like Grandma’s family photos. That is of course one of the simple reasons behind the legislation, but nothing is simple and this proposed law is like giving someone the right to scratch an itch they have but they need to use a sledgehammer to do it.

There is no way a logically minded individual can think that the Orphan Works act is a good idea and will help promote the creation of creative works, as it claims. It will seriously damage the livelihood of the very creators they somehow seek to encourage to create. Misguided people like the author of the “Six Misconceptions about Orphaned Works” seem to think it’s more important to be able to make copies of Mom and Dad’s wedding pictures than to protect the ability of creative professionals to make a living.

If you make a living in any way be creating intellectual works i.e. art, illustration, writing, etc., then this proposed legislation is of vital importance to you and your livelihood. Read up on it, and follow the suggestions of the folks at the Illustrator’s Partnership and contact your state representatives. In the meantime, you’ll be seeing all the images on my website begin to be replaced by ones with a giant, ugly copyright and my name watermark on it.

Read the whole thing. It’s worth it.

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