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Orphan Works

I received this alarming email info today and wanted to know if
anyone else knows anything about this proposed legislation to
significantly change current copyright law. While this info specifies
visual artists, the text reads like this would be a carte blanche
change in legislation affecting all artists copyright rights. Anyone
have anymore clarity on this issue??

What do you find alarming about it? I haven’t studied it in detail,
but it is apparently addressing the long-standing problem of being
legally prohibited from using works when the copyright owner is

The bill specifies that a search for the owner be done according to
standards set. It also specifies that if the unknown copyright owner
should appear out of the woodwork, he would receive reasonable
compensation for any use of the works.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

Hi Lisa,

I also received an email with this link from another list.

Here’s an excerpt from this site…

The Orphan Works Act of 2008, also known as the "Shawn Bently
Orphan Works Act of 2008", was released to the Senate and the
House of Representatives recently. While at first glance the law
seems to be a 'last resort' for a search for the owner of any
photograph, artwork or sculpture, the devil, as they say, is in
the details. 

An "orphan", as it relates to this legislation, is an original
creative work such as a photograph, graphic image, or sculpture,
which is still protected by its term of copyright, but the
copyright holder can't be found. 

As it is written, if it passes we would have to register all of
our creative works in all the upcoming private sector registries
(those certified by the Copyright office) or risk orphaning all
of our work. This means all past, current and future work could
be legally used without your permission.

The copyright laws in the U.S. are about to be changed. It’s called
The Orphan Works Act. In very simplistic terms, the Congress and
Senate are considering an act right now that would remove the
automatic copyright protection that artists currently enjoy for
anything they produce. Under this proposed act, if an artist does not
pay a private company to register each work they make, then that work
could be used without compensation by another party. Call, write or
email your congress people now. Here’s a link for more

all I know about this

Actually, that’s not what the bill will do. It won’t apply to new
works, or works that the owners can be found for via “Reasonable

People, this one has caused a lot of confusion on several art forums
I’m on elsewhere. Go read the bill itself. Several hysterical
attention getters are spreading the twisted view in this previous
post, and it’s not true. The bill is meant to clear up issues with
historical photos.

Lindsay Legler