Senate Committee Approves Orphan-Works Bill

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May 15, 2008
"The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill today to make it easier for scholars, archivists, and others to use orphan works. These are books, films, and other creations whose owners cannot be identified. Those who redistribute the material risk incurring penalties for copyright infringement. The legislation, The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act, S.2913, would make it less costly for people to exploit orphan works.

A companion bill was approved by a panel of the U.S. House of Representatives last week."


Maybe now it is time for artists to ask why has the Graphic Artist's Guild told artists to not write letters?

This is very disappointing news for artists but hardly a surprise. Even though 60,000 letters were sent to Congress opposing the bill, it seems that many artists were told not to worry about this bill and remain neutral by one artist's group who was promising negotiations were going on. In fact the billed said through committee with no changes. I wonder if there will be any uproar or will all of this just go quietly unnoticed...



Briana said...

This link:

may give an answer why the Graphic Artists Guild as well as many, many other artists did not write in. Yes, through the Orphan Works Act it -may- be easier to get your hands on copyrighted work, but they've also set in a great deal of safeguarding to protect those works that are NOT orphaned. With the way the bill has been written, as it appears to me, it would not even be worth the effort to willfully steal one's work under this act as the repercussions for infringing are quite high and the "good faith" searches would require documentation.

What we are also not seeing here is what has been approved are two companion bills. That is to say, one version for the House and one for the Senate. For this Bill to actually go through, the Senate's copy would have to be approved by the House or vice versa before going to the president. I'm not exactly familiar with all the legal jargon, but I thought that was how it worked. Anyone have any more info on this?

Rick Lovell said...


Thanks for the comment, and it's worthy of careful consideration. However, regardless of Meredith's post regarding this issue, and despite the fact that Mark Simon's rant is clearly not well thought-out, I tend to favor the statements made by Brad Holland and the Illustrator's Partnership. Brad and his group have discussed the issue in face-to-face meetings with our congressional representatives as well as the copyright officials in Washington. If he's concerned, then so am I.
Additionally, even if the bill before the Senate isn't as threatening as we once thought, I think that the folks on the hill need to know how many Americans are concerned about the ownership of creative properties, and that we deserve protection under the law for the things we create.

Jay said...

Thanks Bri and Rick for the comments on this. Rick took the words right out of my mouth. These are all good healthy debates that all creative should have and it's good to know all side of the issues. I read the over the top Mark Simon article and Meridith article as as well. Good points but I still want to see some sort of change in the bill that differentiates this from commercail art. The GAG is NOW saying to write your Senators. To quote the forma letter:
"I am opposed to the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008, S. 2913 unless it can be amended to protect visual creators and to include, at a minimum, a publicly accessible “notice of use” filing.

This is an inexpensive and effective way to allow creators to identify themselves as copyright owners so that creators may preserve their legal ownership rights. It also eliminates the ability to make fraudulent claims of conducting a diligent search for copyright owners.

If the bill cannot be amended then I urge you to vote NO."

Send more letters now! Takes 2 min.

chedder638 said...

I think part of the hesitation artists have is that we don't really understand what the bill means (from reading the actual bill). And a lot of unofficial information on it is so strongly worded it's hard to take it seriously without getting hyped up.

But I just read this article by Ellen Million. She did a good job of explaining some of the language of the bill (as "wish-washy" as some of it is).