Monday, July 14, 2008

Stand Up For Art

I usually avoid topics of conventional politics, but this issue came to me by Jos A. Smith and it is of great importance to anyone who creates art or cares about protecting it. You can read about it here but in short:

  •  The Orphan Works Act of 2008 defines an 'orphan work' as any copyrighted work whose author any infringer says he is unable to locate with what the infringer himself decides has been a 'reasonably diligent search.' In a radical departure from existing copyright law and business practice, the U.S. Copyright Office has proposed that Congress grant such infringers freedom to ignore the rights of the author and use the work for any purpose, including commercial usage. In the case of visual art, the word 'author' means 'artist.'
  • The bill would substantially limit the copyright holder's ability to recover financially or protect the work, even if the work was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to infringement.
  • The bill has a disproportionate impact on visual artists because it is common for an artist's work to be published without credit lines or because credit lines can be removed by others for feckless or unscrupulous reasons. This is especially true of art published in the Internet Age.
  • The Orphan Works Act would force artists to risk their lives' work to subsidize the start-up ventures of private, profit making registries, using untested image recognition technology and untried business models. These models would inevitably favor the aggregation of images into corporate databases over the licensing of copyrights by the lone artists who create the art.

  • So basically this means that any dishonest sleaze can knowingly steal an image from the internet or wherever else and claim that, duh, he couldn't find any name or proof of ownership so that's why he should have the legal right to use the collected paintings of the Renaissance on the vinyl version of his rehearsal demo (limited to 200 copies! KVLT!). This is basically good news for thieves and bootleggers, and a nightmare for everyone who produces visual art of any kind. I'm not a big believer in petitions since I think politicians do whatever they like and would prefer that we all die of cancer (but still pay taxes in the meantime, of course) but in this case I would like to invite you to please sign one of the many petitions listed here, or if you're in Europe go here.

    There are ones for visual artists, illustrators, and photographers, among others. Sign one even if you don't fit a specific category- it still matters.