The Orphan Works Bill promotes theft of creative work, pure and simple. This bill, currently under consideration in Congress, will deny you the right of immediate ownership over the product of your own creativity, and therefore makes it increasingly difficult to make money--much less a living--from it.
Copyright law, as it is now, acknowledges that the work you create is legally yours--your own property--as soon as you create it. The Orphaned Works Bill will deny that right of ownership. It requires that the creator of any work must pay to register that work before it can be legally deemed the property of the creator. It means you have to register with a private company to have it copyrighted. That means your work can be"orphaned" as soon as it's created, especially since such companies don't exist right now.
Should someone copy your work and leave off your name, it becomes
"orphaned"especially when the copied work is copied again and again. These days, this happens all too easily. That repeated copying makes it difficult to discover who created the work in the first place--even for the "diligent"copier. In addition, it pits million- and billion-dollar companies that want easy access to creative work against artists who can hardly make ends meet from their own work as it is. Why? Because it puts the burden of proof on the creator of the work,
rather than the copier.
Worse, it seriously erodes the property rights of citizens of the U.S.
as outlined in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution.
Write your senator and congressperson now.
Find your state representative:
Feel free to forward this e-mail.
As a publisher and writer, this is extremely alarming. In a nutshell, under current copyright laws, anything you create currently belongs to you from the moment you create it. This law will change that. And it doesn't stop at writings, but I believe could affect software; any manner of printed, printable or duplicable art, including all media: paintings, digital, photographs, sculpture, jewelry, screen printings, etc; any unregistered web page; and potential technologies. It means that when you send an unregistered book out for review, the publisher could legally steal it--the burden of proof that YOU wrote it lies with you. It means artists with unregistered works at art shows have little legal recompense if someone photographs or reproduces their work.
A copy of the HOUSE version of the bill.
A copy of the SENATE version of the bill.
Another helpful link, analyzing the bills and possible effects.
To be clear, I've not read the bills; my time is very limited. But I've heard about this from several people I respect and trust and I read the third site listed. When I brought it up to my husband, he nodded. He'd heard of it, too. As creators, let's hold onto our right to make a living at what we love to do.
I wrote my two senators and congressmen using the links above--the entire process took about twenty minutes through their email forms. I urge you to do the same.