Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Apathy Gets You Nowhere

ap·a·thy {ap-uh-thee} –noun

  • lack of interest in or concern

Yesterday, I was on Capitol Hill. I wasn't there to discuss Orphan Works, but it sure came up. I was at a breakfast with a Senator, and in there were 22 members of the American Library Association on hand. Here's what their website shows they were coming to DC for:
National Library Legislative Day 2008

On May 13 & 14, 2008, hundreds of librarians and library supporters of all kinds are coming to Washington, DC, for an event like no other: National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). And you can come, too!

NLLD is a two-day event in which people who care about libraries participate in advocacy and issue training sessions, interact with Capitol Hill insiders, and visit Congressional member offices to ask Congress to pass legislation that supports libraries.

National Library Legislative Day is sponsored by the American Library Association, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the District of Columbia Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association.
On their webpage, they list links for their talking points on Copyright, which you can read and download here. Topping their list of issues is....you guessed it, Orphan Works. Here's their Congressional Visit packet.

As a member of the leadership of the ALA talked to the Senator, her 21 other constituents listened - intently, and nodded their heads at all the right times. So did the 100 or so other constituents from across the state, listen in - democracy in action, they probably thought. This was the first and thus only issue that was addressed (as it was discussed for some time), and the Senator's legislative counsel came to talk further once the Senator left. Talking points were delivered by the ALA, and the message from the libraries was clear - strike the "dark archive" clause of the House version (among other things). They were organized, they had their message ready.
(Complete post, after the Jump)

Where were the photographers? Nowhere to be found. Not that they were expected, they've never come before. There's been no organized effort to get creatives to swarm the hill, and do what's called a "Hill-climb" (so named, because people are typically walking up the slope to the Capitol from below the building). That's not to say the idea hasn't been floated. I know that others have tried to organize these, yes, including PPA and ASMP. But, apathy abounds amongst photographers when it comes to visiting DC for this purpose.

It seems that photographers can't see the strategic benefits of making this outreach. All photographers see is the $1k in expense to come to DC, and the lost day of work back home, and don't recognize that every other professional business has this type of effort underway to ensure that the legislation that has an impact on their livelihoods they have a voice in shaping.

This is necessary to be done annually, if not more frequently, so that when issues come up down the line, you have an open dialog. Executive staff at all the organizations can only do so much. It's the constituents - the actual voters - that need to come to DC and make their positions known to their elected officials. Yes, cards, letters, and e-mails can help, but whether it's:
  • Orphan Works (Senate version S.2913, House version H.R. 5889)
  • The PRO IP Act of 2007 (H.R. 4279)
  • Tax deductibility of healthcare for small business (House version H.R. 2132, and Senate version S. 99)
  • The Artists Deduction Bill - The tax deductibility of artists works at full value rather than materials only (Senate version S. 548, House version H.R. 1524
Thus, know this, there will be many many more issues that affect you down the line.

Get engaged. Make a difference. And yes, co-ordinate with your organizations. There will be many fights ahead. You can either join in the fight for your own best interests, or suffer the consequences of ignoring the issues while the other side of the debate gets what they're pushing for.

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9 comments:

Walter Rowe said...

As a photographer living in the DC metro area, I would welcome one of these opportunities to sit down with members of congress and express our concern over the Orphan Works bills.

Von R Buzard said...

Here, Here. I'm in Chicago and I think if something were organized that I could make the time to fly out for the day (or two)

credit savvy said...

good post there

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The Pinup Art of Iman Woods said...

This is very disappointing. Are you sure there are not specific meetings set up between some of the big photography memberships?

If not, I want to know why I'm paying dues that are supposed to be going to help fight for my rights, specifically against Orphan Works.

I'm not able to travel and have spent a significant amount of time writing congressmen and women to describe how this would affect my business.

That's one way people can try to help change things if they are not able to be there in person.

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Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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Anonymous said...

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