Saturday, March 9, 2013

First SOPA now the Orphaned Works Act. Get it together, Congress!

Remember SOPA, the anti-piracy bill that had the internet using art community in a mighty uproar?  The SOPA Bill was a good idea on paper, let's make pirating difficult for art theives.  Sounds legit --only in reality it was about as effective as trying to kill a housefly with a shotgun. Like our government was going to actually devote time and tax dollars to go busting every pre-teen hopeful singing along to Justin Beiber on You Tube?  Sorry about that but my point there was to illustrate how much of a NON threat something like this would be to a major recording star like the Beibs and how little SOPA would do to counteract real piracy.  Argh!

Well now the pendulum is about to swing the other way with the Orphaned Works and Mass Digitization Act.  Orphan works are copyrighted works in which the author cannot be identified or contacted.  Right now the law says that orphaned work cannot be used in new work or distributed or circulated.  But if this bill passes art theives can use work that appears to have no owner provided that they've done an "extensive" search for the author.  Right. Just for shiggles I once tried to trace a drawing of mine I saw someone had posted on Pinterest just to see who had started the pin. I never did find them and I knew where the orginal drawing was!  Basically you can use someone else's work, claim you "looked" for the owner but couldn't find them and then go right on using it without repercussion should the angry author step forward and demand you knock it off or, heaven forbid, pay them. 

The Orphaned Works Bill also would have every blogger, artist, writer  anybody who creates anything HAVE to register their work with the US Copyright Office or whatever you've created would be considered Orphaned Work.  Some say this is an infringement on free speech and allows big government to track our every move.  I say it's more like an infringement on my right to not be bothered with stuff that's a big pain in the ass. So, what can be done?

Well for one, firing off angry emails voicing your concerns to your Congressman is only a small pain in the ass.  Click this link to find the name and email of your Congressman or woman and then send them a copy of the letter I've written below or write your own. 

Dear Congressman _______,

I am writing this letter to ask you to vote against Senate Bill 2913 and House of Representatives Bill 5889 (The Orphan Works Act of 2008) before Congress. I strongly oppose this bill because it infringes upon my rights as an artist and any person who expresses themselves creatively.

The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 (S.2913) and (H.R.5889) has negative implications for all artists from young children crayoning their first drawings to commercially successful artists.  This bill is would undermine existing United States and International copyright laws that protects artists, cartoonists, photojournalists, multimedia journalists, writers, illustrators, videographers, musicians, American citizens, and all people who create art. This bill would seek to allow small time art thieves and big companies alike to use and profit from my work without permission and, should they be caught, suffer no repercussions provided that they claim they couldn't find me to ask permission.

 As of right now I have the right to decide how my drawings, illustrations, photographs, videos, music  or writings are used -- or NOT used.   All I need to do to exercise this right is to create something and sign my name to it to implement my copyright.   The strong protection of this right helps prevent any one person, company, institution or government from gaining control over my art and images without my permission. I am against any law that directly or indirectly undermines that right and so should you be.

 Please, vote against the Orphan Works Act.

Thank you,
(your name here)

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