Saturday, September 27, 2008

Orphan Works Trifecta - Libraries Torch Photographers Rights

Do you trust something that is done under dark of night? How about when everyone else is focused elsewhere? How about when you sneek your bad idea onto someone elses' really great idea - like a swarm of gnats around hot dog stand on cool fall evening?

Re-enter Orphan Works, which did just that. At the end of a Friday night, when everyone was focused on the impending debate of the presidential candidates, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act, S 2913 was snuck through, like an illegal alien skirting Border Patrol with the guidance of coyotes to help it on it's way. One of those Coyotes - Orin Hatch, proclaimed "victory" (read here).

Sen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) who co-sponsored the BIll with Senator Hatch, is quoted as saying, in remarks about whom the bill is named, Shawn Bentley - “So it is entirely proper and fitting for this bill to honor him and his continuing contributions to intellectual property law.”

Contributions? Try the gutting of IP law, Senator. This is just out of line.

What happens next?
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UPDATE: Jim Goldstein's EXIF AND BEYOND podcast with me, Chase Jarvis, and Dan Heller debating the subject of Orphan Works is here.
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(Continued after the Jump)

Next up, the House is pondering trashing their "christmas tree bill" with all the things in it that are supposedly good for photographers (See ASMP's position on the House bill here and why they think it's good for you) and adopting the Senate language to get the bill through the House.

Apparently this bill got the trifecta ram-thru because of a massive lobbying effort by libraries. So, they want to protect their books but torch our rights as photographers? I wrote about the American Library Association's efforts here - Apathy Gets You Nowhere, and it seems they have been successful in their efforts.

I remain doubtful this bill will pass, yet I encourage you highly to write and make your voices known. Use this link to make your voices heard. If the House bill dies, Orphan Works dies for this session, it takes two to tango.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can convince the "Weekend Warriors" who have full time jobs but pose as professionals when they do weddings; maybe they will be willing to help stop Orphan Works.

Or maybe a large showing of the many photo students that take on jobs because Mummy and Daddy bought them the latest and greatest digital camera so they can charge enough for beer money or do work for photo credit might come up with creative ways to help protest Orphan Works.

What about those neat shooters that barely make enough money to live above the poverty level doing photojournalism; I'm sure that after the many years of many of them doing side jobs for peanuts they might come join you on the Hill to show solidarity.

What still no takers?

It looks like the majority just don't give a shit.

Many of these kind "colleagues" of ours could care less about what happens.

Why?

Because they don't want to shoulder one ounce of the responsibility to be good stewards of this profession because they didn't put enough sweat equity into this business to really and truly care about the future. They have no stake in whether or not they get future sales. Most of the above mentioned usually are doing work for hire, spec, or their agencies or bureaus own copyright.

So why should they care about Orphan Works? Why should they take the time to help?

Mark my words; more "photographers" will sign the Breeders Cup contract then will join with you to prevent one of the largest possible injustices that could ever befall photographers.

Ken Murray said...

I personally think it's the pompous upper tier and their curt tounges in concert with the unscrupulous photo buyers-read... thiefs - that plague this business that accounts for most of the complacency IMHO.

We shoot down our own quicker than we capture images.

oneword said...

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me what happens to photographers elsewhere in the world. We live in a global economy now and, specifically with photography, my files are viewable online in many different places, both credited and uncredited. Am I supposed to register my images now with an American registry in order to prevent American companies from stealing them or to prove I am the original owner and prevent them becoming orphans, allowing unpaid and uncredited usage by American companies?

I thought there was international law in place to protect copyright holders of all countries? Does this new act not usurp the international laws?

This is very frustrating and shortsighted for those of us in the rest of the world. It basically means I now have to be wary of any images posted online without a watermark for fear of them becoming the property of US companies who cannot find them in a US database.

This is another step backwards for internet openness, global commerce and international copyright.

Marty said...

How does this affect photographers in New Zealand and Australia?

It sounds like the US will become a little bit like dealing with countries like India and China where the enforcement of Copyright can be hard.

Thoughts?

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