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Orphan Works Act

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!

Read the act, testimony or full report
Go to the Illustrator's Partnership Resource Page !
See the Brad Holland video about this act
Government contacts and sample letter!


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much M.

Anonymous said...

It's all good :).


Marcelo Vignali said...

The Maradydd article is pure horse-pucky. I read this blog, and read the Orphan Works Act report -- of which this wedding picture analogy comes from. This is purely false designed to make you believe the current laws are unreasonable.

The truth is, photo shops sell service, not copyrights. If you take a picture to them, they can repair it and not infringe on anyone's copyright. To suggest otherwise is not being honest.

I'm not going to delete anonymous' comments, because I want you all to read this deception for yourself. It's the same deception that is in the Orphan Works Act's full report. See for yourself, it's linked

Also, if this were the case, why wouldn't the laws simply make an exception for personal usage (as in the case of the wedding picture)? Do you want to know why? Because personal usage is already allowed by our current laws.

Nope, it's not all good anonymous.

Omar "OX" Rodriguez said...
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JRtist said...

Hey Marcelo... This has been going around the net for over a month now.

I haven't read anywhere yet in legislature that this is even being talked about right now... I am not saying I know exactly where to find every shred of info... But from what I have seen, this isn't even being talked about at the time being. A guy 'Les' I'll just give his first name... directed me to an article talking about this act. After a few weeks of this flooding out into the masses (I'm one of em that helped get people in the know of this act)... it was brought to my attention that the writer of the article claimed he was duped into thinking this was actually going through congress again. Who knows what's actually happening with information on the ineternet. I hate looking like an idiot when it comes to protecting my rights as an artist. So, IF this is going through congress... I'll inform my congressman my concerns for it... And Senator... hopefully he can do something lol.

As for the people in photo lab who can retouch photos for you... I worked in a photo lab and I'm also a photographer. If that photo lab even touches my photograph, as it's been asked to be retouched, I get to sue them for doing anything do that as it's an infringement of my copyright. If I wanted to be rude, I could threaten to sue the holder of the photo. Just because they own the photo, doesn't mean they own the rights to it. Now, if I want to showcase it in public, I have to get their permission, as it's their image on the photo. But that doesn't mean they own the copyright.

Many photo labs, if they're competent are supposed to say I cannot help you with this photograph because it's copyrighted. And I don't think a lot of people know, but up tp $250,000.00 per copyright voilation is a lot of money to lose on a stupid mistake.

That's been my experience anyways. And I've sued a few people inthe past for copyright infringements such as these.

I was doing a documentary and found a photo from I believe it was the 1920's?... I could have used it as the copyright for the photo was over 75 years old and no longer valid. But I hunted down for three months, the owner of the copyright. It had turned over to the next of kin of said photographer. They were grateful that I took the time and were upset that no one else had informed them the photo was being used in a means not ok'd by them.

I think it's lame, the idea that we as artists would have to submit 20 dollars per image for a copyright, when we already have an automatic copyright on anything we create at time of finished product.

In all, I hope this truly is just old information that has resurfaced. If it isn't, anyone that has a job where these kinds of copyrights are important for not only repuation, but for economic reasons is going to be beyond upset... and I'll be one of em.

In defense to this article tho... It's better to be safe than sorry. So even if this is old news... it can't hurt to bring up to your congressman and senator and anyone else for that matter, your strong views on why this shouldn't be passed.

Sorry for the long response. I've had a lot to say about this situation for over a month now.

Jason Scheier said...

Thank you for all of this helpful information.

Marcelo Vignali said...

Thank jrtist for your comments. I've added an update in a subsequent post to let people know this is happening.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if there's a chance, but as an artist, I'll go down fighting this.

I've been consumed with Orphan works questions - who is doing this and what is their real issue and this is what I gather. The whole thing just stinks and I don't really see many supporters as opposed to quite alot of artists/photographers, so how did we get here? Here's my theory:

The internet search engines stand to profit from this - them and a few of their minions.

Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo - who incidently owns -
and they (microsoft) are already working with Picscout
( and they, MS, hired Jule Sigall who was the man that wrote the ORPHAN WORKS REPORT while he worked for the COPYRIGHT OFFICE.
( (Tech Law Journal's owner Mr.Carney wrote, "The primary author of the report, Jule Sigall, subsequently went to work for Microsoft. See, story titled "Jule Sigall Joins Microsoft" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,510, December 27, 2006.")

Talk about having all your bases covered....please.

Then Google has problems with MS, because MS has issues with how Google deals with copyright issues (yah, they didn't like Google stealing, go figure)...or maybe because of competition over ads (Google is way out front) - part of the reason everyone is fighting over the images in my opinion...we all search the net, they throw the ads in on the side and that's how they make their money - not to mention what they'll make off registration and searches as when they stick us with that. "Companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other people's content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue and IPOs. Google takes the position that everything may be freely copied unless the copyright owner notifies Google and tells it to stop. " That sounds familar.... from & ( )

Google is hooked up with Getty and AOL (Shawn Bentley went from the US gov. to work for time warner - owner of AOL - as VP of IP and Global Public Policy after he worked in the senate and "helped write are among the most important laws in the intellectual property world: the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the American Inventors Protection Act, the Patent Fee Integrity and Innovation Protection Act, the Anti-Counterfeiting Consumer Protection Act, and the Trademark Dilution Act, just to name a few.”

Then there's apple fixing to jump into the mix?(

Also, any of us that upload any amount of art onto free sites better be taking a really good look at their policies and finding out what they are up to. Deviants beware, you better read your agreement when you upload and don't "DELETE". they even mention that when you go to FAQ there

Just my own speculations, so correct me if I am wrong.


Anonymous said...


My name is Candice Johnson form the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and I'm working on a story in my Legal and Ethics Class on the Orphan Works Act. This is not going to be published at all in any publication, just to receive a grade for class.

This is the school's website

In May, you posted a statement on your blog about it.

1 I just wanted to know the reason why, if you are in favor of it.

2 What does it mean for Newspaper Cartoonists, and any kind of artists?

3 What is being done for those who favor it?

4 What stage is the act currently in? Meaning is it completely passed?

my email is


Candice Johnson

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