Sunday, April 13, 2008

About the "Orphan Works Bill" (and Why Nobody's About to Steal your Kingdom Hearts Fanart)

Okay, artists, let's recap: Relatively powerful animation guru writes incensed article about how Congress is trying to steal all of your artwork, family photos, and other assorted artwork, by declaring it an "Orphaned Work" unless you go and pay $45 to register its copyright (and do so before anyone else so that they don't get your precious copyright and steal it from you that way).

. . . and if you believe that, I still have lawyers outside my window.

The Truth: While there WAS an "Orphaned Works Bill" back in 2006, it died in committee. There is no bill in congress now with even similar language, and even if there was, it's in violation of the Berne Convention on so many levels that the minute Big Copyright (i.e. Disney) caught wind of the fact it would jeopardize their ability to leverage their copyrights outside of the United States, this thing would die faster than a mafia informant.

Yes, you should exercise due vigilance with your images/copyrights, but you don't need to register every single piece you have (and seeing how that's $45 a pop, you'll go broke trying), and if anyone is found violating your copyright you're still due all the usual damages this incurs. Yes, using your real name (and maybe a URL/email address) to sign your works is a damn good idea in case the image becomes separated from the website.

This said, writing/phoning/foaming rabidly from the mouth at your congressional representatives before this thing even has a bill number is stupid. To Congress, if it doesn't have a bill number, it doesn't exist. If this thing actually DOES gain a number and a chance in hell of passing, then by all means, foam away.

In the meantime, though? Just get back to work. If you really want to write someone, go ask Bill O'Reilly to "investigate" this. At least that way we'll either get the truth, or hilarity will ensue.

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At April 14, 2008 at 1:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s nice to see some sanity brought to this issue. Even people where I work (an advertising and design firm) were in a tizzy over this subject today. Even some clients of mine were calling about whether or not I should ‘copyright their pieces to be on the safe side’. I was shocked at the near panic this started to induce with some of my artist friends too .
Even to take it one step further, while there are always unscrupulous individuals out there, every designer I know would not want to risk their career or livelihood over doing something so insanely stupid as use a copyrighted image in their print and web media.
That’s not to say it doesn’t happen (that fox sports thing with the dog, and apple’s use of the tv images in the Apple TV ad a while back, however I think that is still set for trial in this year I believe) You are so right about having to take the initiative to protect things. For me it’s just part of that extra step that I’ve taken to heart after seeing some of my own work in other places.
That being said, metadata is your friend! I’ve begun to incorporate information into all my files that have headed out to clients and online. Sure it can be edited, just as a signature can be cropped of but it’s that extra layer of information that can help if you’re ever in a bind.
Anyway! I appreciate having more calm and reason out now that the whole art world is in the tizzy over this as it seems .

At April 14, 2008 at 1:48 PM , Blogger Rachel Keslensky said...

OY! Look, if you see more of this drama, just send them the link to this article. It's not the most in-depth explanation of what's going on, sure, but at least it's as to-the-point as it's going to get.

Sure, if something does happen, let's be ready, but as fast as this thing is spreading AS IS I doubt congress is going to try anything. They can't even get Bush's pet projects through fast enough to stop people from complaining, so why would they be able to get THIS under the radar?


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