Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: US Orphan Works Bill  (Read 2767 times)


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 25
US Orphan Works Bill
« on: May 16, 2008, 03:53:22 AM »

I originally posted this in the wrong area - my apologies to LL

What Australia Institute of Professional Photography are doing in response to the US Orphan Works Bill.

Its now becoming vitally important to understand why all of your images should make sure that no images leave your cameras or studio or office or house, without having the meta data fields completed, with the very minimum of contact, copyright and usage information.

William Long
Longshots Photography

And what the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) are doing about this (copied with permission of AIPP National President):

From Jackie Dean, AIPP National President

Please see below a letter I have sent to Ambassador Susan Schwab on behalf of the AIPP. The letter relates to the U.S. Orphan Works Bills that are currently before the House and the Senate in the USA.

These Bills would amend United States Copyright Law. In brief, the proposed amendment would define an Orphan Work as any copyrighted work whose author any infringer says he is unable to locate by means of a reasonably diligent search.

The ramifications for all owners of copyrighted work which clearly applies to photographers are appalling.

If this Act is passed in the USA it will undoubtedly affect the rights of photographers worldwide. I urge you all to consider spending a few moments of your time and to contact Ambassador Susan Schwab and the other three contacts that are shown on the attached list to express your concerns about the proposed Amendments to the Copyright Act.

Please send copies of your letter to:-

Ambassador Susan C. Schwab
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20508
United States of America
FAX: 001 (202) 395-4549
(Telephone: (202) 395-3000)

Marybeth Peters
Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
United States of America
FAX: 001 (202) 707-8366
(Telephone: (202) 707-5959)

Jon W. Dudas
United States Patent & Trademark Office
P.O. 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
United States of America
FAX: 001 (571) 273-8300
Telephone: (800) 786-9199)

Reuben Jeffrey III
Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
United States of America
FAX: 001 (202) 647-9763
(Telephone: (202) 647-7575)

Ambassador Susan C. Schwab
14th May 2008

Office of the United States
Trade Representative 600 17th Street,
N.W. Washington, DC 20508 United States of America

Dear Ambassador

I'm writing to urge you to oppose the U.S. Orphan Works Bills, H.R. 5889 and S. 2913, introduced into the House and Senate on April 24, 2008. These bills would amend Chapter 5 of Title 17, United States Code, (Copyright law) by adding “§ 514. Limitation on remedies in cases involving orphan works.” This new limitation on remedies will be imposed on any copyrighted work wherever the infringer can successfully claim an orphan works defense, whether legitimate or adjudicated by courts to be conclusive.

The Orphan Works Act defines an “orphan work” as any copyrighted work whose author any infringer says he is unable to locate by means of a “reasonably diligent search.” The infringer himself will be allowed to determine when he has met this imprecise test. The infringer would be free to ignore the rights of the author and use the work for any purpose, including commercial usage. This is a radical departure from existing international copyright law and conventions, as well as normal business practices.

These bills will have a disproportionate impact on visual artists because pictures are commonly published without credit lines or because credit lines can be removed by others. This is especially true of art published in the Internet Age. And since unmarked pictures cannot be sourced or dated, works by artists like me – who live and work outside the U.S. - will be just as vulnerable to infringement as the work of American artists.

Because visual art is so vulnerable to orphaning, there is only one way to match an unmarked image to its author: by relying on image-recognition databases. The Copyright Office has stated that with the passage of these bills, such registries will be “indispensable,” and they have stipulated that the registries must be created in the private sector and run as commercial, for-profit ventures.

Forcing artists to rely on any form of registry to protect their work is a violation of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. This law forbids any member country to impose registration on a rights holder as as a condition of protecting his copyright. See Berne. Article 5(2) “The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality.” But forcing international artists to rely on commercial registries in order to to protect their work from infringement - made legal by a law unique to the United States - is deeply troubling.

There are many reasons why international law forbids coerced registration. Before such registries can be meaningful, all the billions of images currently protected by copyright must first be entered into them with authorship information intact. That means that millions of pictures from around the world which go unmatched will be orphaned, even if the artists are alive, working and managing their copyrights. This would even be true of images registered in the databases, but which go unmatched because of computer errors.

There is no limit on the number of these registries or the prices they would charge. The burden of paying for digitization and depositing the digitized copy with the private registry would fall entirely on the artists. Most professional artists have created thousands – or tens of thousands - of drawings, sketches, photos and paintings. This includes both published and unpublished work. The costs of paying to have all these works digitized and registered would be beyond their ability. Yet the Copyright Office has stated explicitly that failure of the artist to meet this nightmarish bureaucratic burden would result in his work being automatically “orphaned” and subject to legal infringement.

Presumably the Copyright Office and Congress expects non U.S. artist like me to register all their past and future art with the new hypothetical U.S. databases, or see my work exposed to commercial infringement under U.S. law.

These bills will create massive uncertainty in the markets where visual art is bought, sold and licensed. It will do this by voiding entirely the exclusive rights of every visual artist whose work any infringer can lay claim to. Reason: I would be powerless to stop the unauthorized uses of my art, even in cases where I would never, or could never, permit those uses. Besides seeing my work used in objectionable or defamatory ways, this will void existing contracts already in force between me and my clients. This is an attack on the principle of art itself, because my exclusive right of copyright is the only tool I have to assert creative control over my work and to protect its value in the marketplace.

The U.S. is a member country of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (The TRIPs Agreement). Article 13 of this copyright-related treaty allows certain “limitations and exceptions” to an artist’s exclusive right of copyright. These are codified as a Three-Step Test:“ Member [countries] shall confine limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to: (1) certain special cases (2) which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work (3) and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder.

The Orphan Works Bills of 2008 have been written so broadly that their use cannot be confined to true orphaned work. These bills will violate the Berne Copyright Convention and fail the Three-Step Test of TRIPs. Any Orphan Works solution should precisely define an orphan work as a copyright no longer managed by a rights holder, and be limited to uses in the cultural heritage sector for noncommercial purposes, or use by museums and libraries for preservation and education.

Yours sincerely,

Jackie Dean M.Photog.ll, FAIPP
AIPP National President

PS My apologies if I've posted this in the wrong area


  • Guest
US Orphan Works Bill
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2008, 05:17:59 PM »

URGENT for US Artists - YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED today 7/30/08

The Senate is "hotlining" the Orphan Works Bill at this very minute,
which means it could pass within the hour.

vote NO or put a hold on the Bill.

Whether you've called before, or have never called, this is is the
moment, the second where it counts. This cannot wait, you need to call

This could be your last chance to make a stand for the protection of

Here is a link providing contact information for Senators/

Pages: [1]   Go Up