Kendricks Redtail (ken_redtail) wrote in artists_beware,
Kendricks Redtail
ken_redtail
artists_beware

Things you should know about this recent proposed legislation

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.
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