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Regarding the last post and the inevitable panic it caused, I did more research last night and spoke to a fellow furry who happens to be a copyright lawyer. He'd be the best person to consult in this sordid affair.

He had this to say:

"In essence, what it proposes to do is protect people who make a reasonably diligent effort to find the owner of a copyrighted work from being found guilty of copyright infringement if they then turn around and use that artwork and the copyright owner pops up later and says "hey, you stole my art!"

That doesn't mean they can use it for free. If the copyright owner (that means you) comes forward, they would still be entitled to their license fee.

So, in short, it's not as bad as all that. Most of the situations that this bill would cover are probably fair use anyway.

What it *does* mean, however, is that people who create artwork would have to be more careful about where and how they display their stuff, assuming this bill becomes law at all. It pops up every few years and has thus far never become law.

The *intent* of the legislation is actually a good one. It's designed to make it easier for places like libraries and museums to protect their collections, and for people who commissioned work from artists to make uses of them if they can't find the original artist to get permission. Did you know, for example, that unless there is a contract or something giving you the right, you're not allowed to make copies of your own wedding photos if someone else took them? Orphaned works legislation would protect things like that.

Does the bill, as currently presented, overdo it? Probably. There are situations where it could become possible for you to lose out on your rights. For example, if your work was published without attribution or if someone used a pirated copy. But in principle, I think that for the most part, this might actually be OK in principle. It does suggest some things that, if you're an artist, you should be doing anyway:

1. When you publish a piece, make sure you have a contract with the publisher and make they credit you in the publication. Maybe even make them publish contact information for you or a website or something.

2. When you exhibit your work online, don't do it anonymously. Not only should your websites/galleries identify you and easily provide contact information, but the images you display should identify you as the artist clearly. You might even want to do what some artists have done and publish only "preview" copies that aren't useful to a would- be pirate. Keep them small and low-res, plaster "PREVIEW" over them with your name and website in semi-transparent text, etc. The less useful you make easily downloaded copies, the less often people will pirate them. Nobody who is going to pirate your artwork commercially is going to download one of these doctored images and spend the money on paying a graphic designer to re-edit and touch up the image when they could just buy it from you.

3. Register your copyrights. You can't sue someone without a registered copyright anyway. And I think a reasonable compromise to this issue would be to make copyright registration a form of notice of the owner so that someone couldn't claim the benefit of the Orphaned Works bill against a registered work."


Remember that this is a bill that has been attempted before and has yet to make it into law because the government is trying to close all loopholes for YOUR sake so you don't get victimized.
Artist's beware has moved!
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Comments

( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
lilenth
Apr. 12th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)

Re: 2, the game imagine babies mockup had an image with an istock photo watermark on it originally. Ubisoft ended up with egg all over their faces over it. It's also in use on many sites for an advertising image.

Furthermore people remove watermarks and information on a regular basis.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - lilenth - Apr. 12th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - lilenth - Apr. 12th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dinogrrl - Apr. 12th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ken_redtail - Apr. 12th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapesgirl34 - Apr. 12th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calzephyr77 - Apr. 13th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Apr. 14th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calzephyr77 - Apr. 14th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
alohawolf
Apr. 12th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
it does not take much to whip LJ into a tizzy.
lennoxmacbeth
Apr. 12th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
It doesn't take much to whip FANDOM into a tizzy - this is being posted all over deviantART and on a couple other forums I belong to as well. -_-;
(no subject) - paulownia - Apr. 12th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dinogrrl - Apr. 12th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paulownia - Apr. 12th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dinogrrl - Apr. 12th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Apr. 12th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dinogrrl - Apr. 12th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ken_redtail - Apr. 12th, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lennoxmacbeth - Apr. 14th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zyleeth - Apr. 12th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
lennoxmacbeth
Apr. 12th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It's nice to see someone besides me isn't freaking out about this. :)
lanaandlex
Apr. 12th, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC)
How much does it cost to register your work for copyrighted purposes? I'm an art student and I honestly can't afford to register every single piece of work I've done if this bill becomes a law.
maradydd
Apr. 12th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
$35 if you do it online, $45 if you do it by mail.

Furthermore, unpublished works can be registered as a collection for the same cost as an individual work, so you can literally take every piece of work you've ever done in your entire life (so long as you haven't published it, more on that in just a second) and register it as one giant collection.

"Publication", as defined by the Copyright Office, means selling copies or allowing other people to distribute copies -- merely putting an image up for display on the Internets does not, for the moment, constitute publication. Neither does showing it in a gallery, in your school's art show, &c.
(no subject) - snapesgirl34 - Apr. 12th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maradydd - Apr. 12th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapesgirl34 - Apr. 12th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maradydd - Apr. 12th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapesgirl34 - Apr. 13th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
fix_the_spade
Apr. 12th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
International law could be a sticking point with this. US law does't cover the rest of the world (yet...), but the internet does. So what happens when an American company rips an image, claims they 'couldn't' find the original artist and print it. Only for Mr Englishman to see it on some website and come storming round with the Lawyers and a registered trademark?

I've had dealings with a couple of American (bicycle) companies that refuse to acknowledge the existence of life East of New York, so does the legal system see it that way too?
maradydd
Apr. 12th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
The Berne Convention exists to handle situations just like these, and has been doing so since the U.S. became a signatory to it in 1989.
maradydd
Apr. 12th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Register your copyrights. You can't sue someone without a registered copyright anyway.

Nope, not true. Registering a copyright enables you to collect statutory damages and attorney's fees if someone infringes your copyright, you sue them, and you win. But even if your copyright isn't registered, you can still sue an infringer and collect "actual damages and profits".

More info at http://maradydd.livejournal.com/374886.html.
snapesgirl34
Apr. 12th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU. So many people are flipping out thinking they're going to lose all their rights and blowing this waaaay out of proportion. I'm still not to happy about it as I think it will be abused, but it's hardly as bad as people seem to thing (I blame a few over zealous blog posts that seem to have exaggerated the situation and sparked a paranoid frenzy).

And great guidelines to help artists protect their work. :)
eski
Apr. 12th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
I am still worried about the orphan works amendment because it COULD be used in a way artists would not like. It opens up a loophole that is not otherwsie there. I understand it's value, and I understand it's not going to be a copyright lacking free for all if it passes, but it still does not sit well with me.

Oh well! I can cough up $35 to register my portfolio with the copyright office, that's chump change compared to what an artist might loose to people using their work commercially without their permission. =3
maradydd
Apr. 13th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
Note that registering a work/collection with the Copyright Office is not and most likely will never be a requirement to secure copyright protection -- your work is automatically copyrighted the moment you commit it to paper/pixels. If someone rips off your work and you haven't registered the copyright, you can totally sue them. If you have registered the copyright, you can sue them, collect extra damages, and make them pay your lawyer for you. So there definitely is some benefit to it. :)
(no subject) - eski - Apr. 13th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
verix
Apr. 13th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Still waiting for the Thomas number of the bill that's currently on the floor.
maradydd
Apr. 13th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
You'll be waiting a long time; there's not one.
(no subject) - verix - Apr. 13th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maradydd - Apr. 13th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - verix - Apr. 13th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - maradydd - Apr. 13th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC) - Expand
kayjkay
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
The Orphan Works conversation has been ongoing in the bigger areas recently and it's just now filtering down to the lower levels.

I was aware of Orphan Works when they tried to pass it in 2006. Instead of foaming at the mouth, I sent a quick note to my local rep with a heads up that said, "Eeeeeh, this bill, me no likey" But in a much more thought out format, I promise.

Anyways, here's a link to AWN.com about the Orphan Works and why it's causing such a stir with the animation industry:

http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=pageone&article_no=3605&page=1

It doesn't matter as much to people who don't make their entire living doing art, or doing commissions, fanwork, etc... but it does have a bigger impact on folks that art for a living.

Again, I don't think it will pass, but I will be poking my local reps and saying "Hey, I don't like this...again."



mattraizoku
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
http://maradydd.livejournal.com/374886.html

Also check this, it tells you about Orphan Works.
ken_redtail
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
maradydd already posted that link and also offered their viewpoints here as well.
sphinxbait
Apr. 14th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Wanted to thank you for actually putting some light on the subject. Lately, my mailbox/LJ/blogs have been overloaded with "oh SH**, the gov't is gonna break into our homes" kind of tin-foil-hattery that really turns off the majority to what could legitimately be a problem.

After my own research, I have to say I'm in line with you. Yes, the proposed bill may be stronger than most would like, but it still hasn't become a Bill to be reckoned with either (and neither has any previous attempt).

Thanks again,
~Locke
grandioze
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
Is there any chance that you could ask the copyright lawyer something for me?

I was wondering about something called "work for hire." Basically, it's something where the copyright of the artwork goes to whoever commissioned the artwork rather than the artist himself/herself.

Now, here's what I'm wondering. Does this apply only in cases where a contract was written up beforehand stating that the work was "work for hire" or does it apply to ANY piece of artwork where the artist takes a request and is paid for their work (i.e. a commission like you'd see on DA).
I saw somewhere that it required a contract, but in other places (on the copyright site, I believe) I saw that it was defined as anything where the artist was given monetary compensation for a requested piece. ..it's likely that the whole "monetary compensation" part -might- have been older copyright laws that I stumbled on.

Just wondering. It's been bugging me and I'd really like to check on that for future commissions. >.>
lilenth
Apr. 21st, 2008 08:44 am (UTC)

For something to be work for hire, it generally has to be stated in the contract. If it's not stated as such then most courts won't consider it work for hire.
(no subject) - grandioze - Apr. 21st, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 49 comments — Leave a comment )

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