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Orphan Works Act Update

I've gotten a few comments that seem to suggest this isn't happening, or that it isn't even being talked about at the federal level. I provided links in my previous post to make it easier to follow this story. Please, just follow the links my friends.

Go to and you'll see the Bill S.2913 has been introduced to the Senate on April 24, 2008.

As the Full Report link in the previous post will show, this has been presented to the both the house and senate. This is the first step in the legislative process, which means it is being deliberated, investigated and revised before it enters into the general debate.

If artists don't get motivated about this, or believe this is a hoax or an internet rumor, then be prepared to lose the copyright protection you currently have. Make your voices heard so as to add balance to those who want to create the Orphan Works Act. Now is the time you should be giving your testimonies. Politicians have no idea what it is to be an artist, educate them. Or else we may lose the copyright protection to spread our pixie dust across the bloggosphere.


Anonymous said...

Just as general information to support the discussion:

The Bill won't steal your copyright!

Every work you create is under copyright protection the moment it is created!

And - here seems to be the biggest common misconception - it has ALWAYS been necessary for works created in the US to be registered in order to file an infringement suit in court.

Tons of old animated series and shorts and movies and art in general, plays and books and stories and music might finaly be available again. Like they should be.

The Bill has lots of good ideas in it and I am not sure if some of the fears (like companies only using orphaned art instead of comissioning new work) are reasonable at all. Artists usually are hired to use their skill and intellect to create art and ideas for a very special purpose. Oprhaned art doesn't do that. It doesn't think.

Hopefully, if this Law becomes reality, it will safe art and culture like it's supposed to and not take artists rights.

However this goes out let's pray we neither loose true orphaned art nor new art and ideas.

Thanks for the news and wonderful drawings as always!

Marcelo Vignali said...


First off, thanks for your kind words about my work.

Yep, you are right in this regard, there will be plenty of art books, prints and animated movies and the like. But such is the law that current artists will fear theft, and the well-spring of ideas will become stifled.

Read the new law being proposed. If an artist has to catch the copyright infringer, then it is in a company's interest to play the field and perhaps only pay three out of every five copyright uses. If the $150,000. copyright violation penalty is taken away, and only a reasonable usage fee is due the artist, then what is in the user's interest to contact the artist beforehand?

You also make the point that orphaned art doesn't think, but it also doesn't cost anything other than the registration fee. That access to free art will make illustration jobs more difficult.

In this digital age, artwork is quite easily manipulated. Signatures and copyrights can be removed seamlessly. Under this new law, companies can claim they found our artwork without a copyright, register it, and use it legally free of charge. If they're caught in this infraction, they only have to pay us a "reasonable fee."

This isn't an out-right theft of our copyrights, but it makes it easier to legally lose copyright protection.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Marcelo. I can see the dangers and possible loopholes in the Law in its current form.

It will make it possible to steal artwork and to hide behind the new law.

I too often forget that the reason that something just isn't right isn't enough for some people. Let's hope for the best.

When you think about the problems with international copyrights the whole thing gets an even bigger scope. Only works created in the US could be declared orphaned. The US can't stop respecting international copyright laws. How should you proof that an images wasn't created in Europe or anywhere in the world if you can't locate its creator?

JRtist said...

"This bill is in the first step in the legislative process. Introduced bills go first to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate. The majority of bills never make it out of committee. Keep in mind that sometimes the text of one bill is incorporated into another bill, and in those cases the original bill, as it would appear here, would seem to be abandoned. [Last Updated: May 3, 2008]
Last Action: Apr 24, 2008: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. "

No one in their right mind will let this be made into a bill. It's been tried before and failed.

I've still send word to my senator about this and my strong feelings towards it. Also gave a great example if this happened :D

But from what I read in that site, seems people ARE in their right mind about this.Unless it's a government conspiracy to make us feel safe, when we aren't. Which I wouldn't put it past em.

And no, I'm not making fun of you. I'm just ultra paranoid.

Shawn Escott said...

Thanks for getting this out in public view and making it a priority. Much appreciated.

Marcelo Vignali said...

Janni: I'm not sure how the law will accommodate international law. From what I read, it doesn't make sense. It seems like it's a catch-me-if-you-can sort of law.

Jrtist: Yep, you read the same thing I did. That's why it's so important for all of us to contact our senators now. Let's try to keep this from going to committee.

We're also going to have to keep an eye out to make sure it isn't folded into another law and snuck through the legislative process like some bundled software we don't want.

Chris Bivins said...

I appreciate the heads of Marcelo. I definitely want to be involved in something as serious as this.


Luc Desmarchelier said...

Hey Marcello,
I don't know if you've noticed that bill that was introduced last July and should make you feel better:


Luc Desmarchelier said...

Ho ho,
the full url didn't make it. Just check HR 3155.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the Orphan Works Act posting.

Jason Johnson said...

My buddy Edwin Rosell turned me on to a site where you can sign a petition against this act. Awesome work as always, Marcelo!

Marcelo Vignali said...

Luc, I appreciate the link to the H.R. 3155 copyright protection bill, but that bill hasn’t progressed into debate since it was introduced in July of 2007. Since Aug 10, 2007, the bill was then referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. I guess that means it’s out of the legislative process for now.

Meanwhile, S. 2913: Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 is in the Judiciary Committee right now. These are the chairmen. If you are the constituent of one of these Senators, then by all means contact them and let them know how you feel about this law.

Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT]
Sen. Joseph Biden [D-DE]
Sen. Samuel Brownback [R-KS]
Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D-MD]
Sen. Thomas Coburn [R-OK]
Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX]
Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL]
Sen. Russell Feingold [D-WI]
Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]
Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC]
Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA]
Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT]
Sen. Edward Kennedy [D-MA]
Sen. Herbert Kohl [D-WI]
Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ]
Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY]
Sen. Jefferson Sessions [R-AL]
Sen. Arlen Specter [R-PA]
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]

Marcos Mateu said...

Thanks for the fantastic job Mo.

Lubomir said...

Thanks for posting this Marcelo, not sure if you've seen this:

Marcos Mateu said...

Mo, I just posted an email I got from the Illustrator's partnership.

Marcelo Vignali said...

Thanks Marcos!

Kisel.B said...

That`s very scary.
I think the artist in Europe have not this problem in the moment, but we must keep the Eyes open.
Take a look at this:

Jamal O said...


It's good to see you posting about this.

Thanks to the supremely efficient illustrator's partnership website.
(Thank you Brad Holland and everyone else involved with that organization)


I was able to send a letter to all 3 of my representatives very quickly.


Its probably a copy and paste letter, but impressive non the less.

The email is below:

"Dear Mr. Otolorin

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 2913, the "Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act." It is good to hear from you.

S. 2913 was introduced on April 24, 2008, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If enacted, this bill would limit the remedies in a civil action brought for infringement of copyright in an orphan work if the infringer proves three points.

First, the infringer must prove that he performed and documented a reasonably diligent search in good faith to locate the copyright owner before using the work, but was unable to locate the owner. Second, he must prove a Notice of Use was filed with the Register of Copyrights before the work was used, and third, he must prove the infringing use of the work provided attribution to the author and owner, if known, of the copyright.

Under this legislation, owners of works would be able to receive compensation for the use of their infringed work unless the infringement is performed without any commercial advantage and primarily for a charitable, religious, scholarly, or educational purpose and the infringer ceases the infringement expeditiously after receiving notice of the infringement.

Finally, S. 2913 directs the Register of Copyrights to begin a certification process for the establishment of an electronic database to facilitate the search for pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works that are subject to copyright protection.

I recognize the importance of preserving the rights of artists to their works and ideas. Should this legislation come before the Senate, I will keep your comments in mind.

If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at: . Please let me know whenever I may be of assistance.

Saxby Chambliss"

Mark McDonnell said...

Thank you for passing on the knowledge and research to make it easier for others . . .



EL GRANDE said...

I am hyper aware of this Bill, and I just wanted to let you know that I have written multiple emails and letters to my 3 congressmen here in GA. I couldn't agree more about the importance of this issue. I'll make a special blog announcement as well this week.

Joe y Elio

Dee said...

Thanks for the posts on this. Very informative! Great work BTW! Hope your well!

Pablo S. Fernández said...

Hola Marcelo! Te escibo desde Argentina, espero que entiendas un poco de espa├▒ol, porque no se escribirte en ingles. Solamnete queria felicitarte por tus trabajos tan hermosos y bonitos, los trabajos de Brother Bear son increibles, verdaderamente, ni hablar de los de Surf Up... bellos. Mi preferido es el de Lilo&Stitch , de Lilo en el agua... hermosisimo.
Nueno, vuelvo a felicitarte, yo tambien trabajo en la animacion... si queres pasarte por mi blog y dejar algun comentario:

Un abrazo grande.


Ken Chandler said...
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Ken Chandler said...

I'm glad that you're one of the many influential artists in this community who are putting a spotlight on this issue, where it needs to be. Thank you!

My fear is that too many are not taking this issue seriously, or are content that others will take action and fix the problem. This is something every artist out there needs to take a stand against. We must not allow bills like this to become laws. If we, by our inaction, allow it, we could lose copyrights to our work, or at the very least give up a portion of rights to another copyright holder of your work.

I've already sent a letter expressing my concerns to my Senator. I hope more artists will step up.

Again, thanks for your diligence.

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