If this law passes, this may be one of the only ways to protect our artwork when we post online. Essentially, I would be rendering my artwork useless with a watermark to would-be users seeking to use my artwork without just compensation. But this watermark protection isn't a guarantee, because anything printed or reproduced without your copyright will now be subject to theft! (That's not to say your copyright wouldn't be purposefully stripped for the purpose of theft.)
Right now, anyone can download my artwork, but no one can legally profit off my artwork without just compensation to me. This is all about to change with this new bill being proposed. S.2913 and H.R. 5889.
Seeing a great big watermark is not a great way to blog or to show samples of our artwork on our websites, but this may be one of the only real protections left to us should this become law.
The Orphan Works act works like this. Is someone finds your artwork on the web, or printed elsewhere, without proper copyright and registration (or with the copyright stripped off), they can register it -- after a “reasonable and diligent search.”
What is a “reasonable and diligent search?” Our artwork would be posted somewhere within the dozens of privately owned registration houses, and it would up to us to find our artwork and claim it.
There will be dozens and dozens of privately owned registries, and billions of images throughout 100 years to sort through. Rendering the process of claiming our own images as nearly impossible. If, on the off chance, you find that you have been ripped off, your infringement claim is only limited to, “reasonable compensation.” (As per their actual literature on page 115 in the Orphan Works Full Report.) What is reasonable compensation? Well, it would NOT be the current compensation of $150,000. worth of protection the current law affords us. Fair compensation means there will be NO penalties for copyright infringement. But, if you catch them, they'll pay you what a court deems is a reasonable usage fee.
Now, if you want to protect your images from being ripped off, you would need to register your images with all these privately owned registries. How much will cost? Who knows? How many images to do you draw per year? I just registered one script idea with SAG, and it cost me $20.00.
As a commercial artist the Orphan Works Act puts the burden of copyright protection and enforcement on the artists, while at the same time giving a pass to the users. We have to register with all the registry houses, and they only have to register with one. This is a bad bill that seeks to undermine the government's long-standing legal protection for artists.
Who are these registration data bases that are going to profit from this? Microsoft, Google, Corbis ... to mention a few.
Whenever I see both Democrats and Republicans come together, get ready to grab your wallet! Such is the case with the Orphan Works Act Senate Bill S.2913 and House Bill H.R. 5889. Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA),Howard Coble (R-NC), John Conyers (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), (Chairman and Ranking Members of House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property and Full Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member respectively) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Please get active and protect your copyrights, or be prepared to lose them!