Important Artists’ Copyright Law Being Considered by Congress, and How it Will Affect Your Rights

Important Artists’ Copyright Law Being Considered by Congress, and How it Will Affect Your Rights

This is a special appeal to artists because Congress is considering a bill that would change copyright law significantly, impacting our rights to our own work.  Please read the info below from the Illustration Partnership, and consider emailing your own letter to Congress by July 23.

Artists Alert: From the Illustrators Partnership 

The Return of Orphan Works – “The Next Great Copyright Act” 

For more than a year Congress has been holding hearings for the drafting of a brand new US Copyright Act involving ‘Orphan Works’ (creative work, including artwork, for which it is difficult to determine who is the author and therefore copyright holder of the art). Twice, Orphan Works Acts have failed to pass Congress because of strong opposition from visual artists. Because of this, the Copyright Office has now issued a special call for letters regarding the role of visual art in the coming legislation. We’re asking all artists concerned with retaining the rights to their work to join us in writing.

Deadline: July 23, 2015.   You can submit letters online to the Copyright Office here.  Please save it as a PDF or MS Word document to upload it at that site.

Here’s how this new copyright law would affect your rights to your artwork:

“The Next Great Copyright Act” would replace all existing copyright law. It would void our Constitutional right to the exclusive control of our work. It would “privilege” the public’s right to use our work. It would “pressure” you to register your work with commercial registries. It would “orphan” unregistered work. It would make orphaned work available for commercial infringement by “good faith” infringers. It would allow others to alter your work and copyright these “derivative works” in their own names. It would affect all visual art: drawings, paintings, sketches, photos, etc.; past, present and future; published and unpublished; domestic and foreign.

The demand for copyright “reform” has come from large Internet firms and the legal scholars allied with them. Their business models involve supplying the public with access to other people’s copyrighted work. Their problem has been how to do this legally and without paying artists.

The “reforms” they’ve proposed would allow them to stock their databases with our pictures. This would happen either by forcing us to hand over our images to them as registered works, or by harvesting unregistered works as orphans and copyrighting them in their own names as “derivative works.”

It’s important that lawmakers be told that our copyrights are our source of income because lobbyists and corporation lawyers have “testified” that once our work has been published it has virtually no further commercial value and should therefore be available for use by the public.

So when writing, please remember:

* It’s important that you make your letter personal and truthful.

* Keep it professional and respectful.

* Explain that you’re an artist and have been one for x number of years.

* Briefly list your educational background, publications, awards, etc.
* Indicate the field(s) you work in.

* Explain clearly and forcefully that for you, copyright law is not an
abstract legal issue, but the basis on which your business rests

* Our copyrights are the products we license.

* This means that infringing our work is like stealing our money.

* It’s important to our businesses that we remain able to determine
voluntarily how and by whom our work is used.

* Stress that your work does NOT lose its value upon publication.

* Instead everything you create becomes part of your business inventory.

* In the digital era, inventory is more valuable to artists than ever before.

If you are NOT a professional artist:

* Define your specific interest in copyright, and give a few relevant

* You might want to stress that it’s important to you that you determine how and by whom your work is used.

* You might wish to state that even if you’re a hobbyist, you would not
welcome someone else monetizing your work for their own profit
without your knowledge or consent.

You can read the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry and the 2015 Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report.

Please send the link to this post to any artists you know, so they can submit letters too.


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