I’ve received an e-mail from JP Trostle alerting me that the Senate has passed their version of the Orphan Works Act last night before the presidential debate. He opines that the timing of its passage was deliberate as the media and watchdog groups are distracted by the debates as well as the Wall Street economic aid package.
The Illustrators’ Partnership has sent out a call to all artists to write their House representative. In order to stop this bill from becoming law would be to stop the House Judiciary Committee from folding their bill (HR5889) and adopting the Senate version.
With lawmakers scrambling to raise 700 billion dollars to bail out businesses that are “too big to fail,” the Senate passed a bill that would force small copyright holders to subsidize big internet interests such as Google, which has already said it plans to use millions of the images this bill will orphan.
With the meltdown on Wall Street, this is no time for Congress to concentrate our nation’s copyright wealth in the hands of a few privately owned corporate databases. The contents of these databases would be more valuable than secure banking information. Yet this bill would compel creators to risk their own intellectual property to supply content to these corporate business models. That means it would be our assets at risk in the event of their failure or mismanagement.
As David Rhodes, President of the School of Visual Arts has said, the Orphan Works bill would socialize the expense of copyright protection while privatizing the profit of creative endeavors. Copyright owners neither want nor need this legislation. It will do great harm to small businesses. We already have a banking crisis. Congress should not lay the groundwork for a copyright crisis.
–Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Illustrators’ Partnership