3 comments on “Like A Little Redheaded Stepchild

  1. Arnie Fenner who runs Spectrum books, is a whole lot more knowledgeable about this subject than I am and who I respect immensely commented on this issue in another forum recently.

    “The whole Orphan Works legislation has been a hot topic for a bit over a year now–how close it might be to getting passed is anyone’s guess. Brad Holland has been spearheading opposition, but the thing is being pushed by big companies who deal in stock art and photography like Corbis and Getty. Basically, the legislation doesn’t give away copyright protection but does significantly limit the amount that can be recovered in a case of infringement. Supposedly someone wanting to use an art work must try to track down the rights holder (and admittedly that can be difficult): if they can’t locate them (after due diligence) they can go ahead and use the work. If the rights holder suddenly surfaces and says, “That’s mine! Pay me!” they’ll only get a dollar amount equal to what they would’ve been paid if they had made the deal themselves. If the company was going to pay $100, that’s what the rights holder would get, regardless of what the artist generally sells their repro rights for. So the option of suing for big bucks disappears. That’s the stripped down version of the Orphan Works proposal–and creatives are opposing it because it limits their rights and, essentially, the ability to say yes or no to who uses their art and for how much as they (not someone else) choose.”

    My personal problem with the Orphan Law is that I’m concerned large corporations will abuse the hell out of it using any number of loopholes. Nike has already been caught with their pants down blatantly ripping off artists and pushing it to the limit when getting called on it. I can only imagine that they’ll figure out a variety of ways to claim “due diligence” on work they would like to use putting even more of a burden on the artist to cover their ass every time they produce something and send it out into the world.

    While I understand part of where Bill Davenport on Glasstire is coming from, I don’t understand his comment about, “Ever downloaded an image from the web, and used it in an artwork? Did you get permission, pay a license fee? Or were you hoping no one would notice or care?” No. I’ve never downloaded an image from the web and used it in my art work. I would think that would be somewhat unethical and it’s disconcerting to think that’s even an issue beyond journalism and the odd appropriation artist.

    Later when Bill says , “Say you come across a piece of unattributed content on the web or elsewhere: a photo, a bit of writing, the secret of cold fusion, whatever. After a diligent search, you are unable to identify an author or copyright holder. You can’t ask permission to use the work, because you don’t know who to ask. So you use it anyway. Currently, the copyright holder could come out of the woodwork, years later, and sue you for everything you’ve got.” i have to wonder if he could site one example where an artist sued someone for “everything they’ve got” H.R. Geiger made a lot of noise when some snowboarding company started using his work on their boards but I don’t recall that they he put them out of business.

    Being immersed in the commercial art world myself, this has been something of an ongoing problem for many, many years. Extremely well know artists who have done everything they can to protect the rights still to this day see their work being abused by publishers and on sites like ebay where scam artists claim others work as their own. This Orphan Law as far as I’m concerned will just make it easier for companies/people to appropriate and cash in on the hard work of struggling artists everywhere. It shouldn’t be taken lightly and artists have every right to be upset by it until we have more clarity on why this is being done.

  2. updates


    “We’ve just received word that the Senate bill has been put “on hold.” In fact, there appear to be multiple holds on it. Senators who “hold” hotlined bills do not have to identify themselves nor give their reasons for holding it. Holds are temporary. We don’t know how many of you contacted your Senators on such short notice this afternoon, but many, many thanks to all of you who responded so rapidly.”

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