Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Would Ben Franklin Think About Orphan Works?

The temporary defeat of the Orphan Works bill was stated on the Library Journal's blog as coming from the hands of "... a fear inducing campaign".

This is not an accurate account, in fact the defeat came from the growing consensus of a grass roots movement that saw the bill for what it truly is, artistic socialism.

Websites that openly support the Orphan Works bill have stated the passage of this bill is one of the six needed steps to overturn copyright and the protection it holds artists.

Artists and photographers already have their work protected by US copyright law but this end around to copyright would have forced every image that an artist has, to be scanned and registered at great expense to as yet created orphan works registries. These registries could range from organizations which see this as an opportunity for new revenue to businesses that have already "spidered" and collected digital images in the millions and are waiting to deliver these images for usage provided artists cannot afford the expense. These for-profit orphan registries, see this as an new business model, much like the creation of web hosting or domain name registries but on a much larger scale, to provide income for search engines and start up businesses/ companies.

The money we are talking about here is huge for businesses.

But the need for artists to maintain and monitor their work will become so cost prohibitive that most artists will likely fall into non-compliance. A current example to the dangers is that of people who have seen their own domain names bought out from under them or watch them expire and sold to companies as a form of commerce.
The same can happen very easily as images will become commerce for start up businesses. If artists do not comply, they risk losing their images to these new for- profit digital registries as "new orphans" and risk having to compete against their own works which could be redesigned and manipulated and resold as new images without an artist's consent. This is not a scare tactic as suggested by Library Journal's blog but a business reality artists face.

Libraries can and should work to remain as they were intended by it's creators, a vestibule of knowledge / a collection and protector of information. Not as a pawn for businesses to suggest the public does not have access to information.

From the Illustrator's Partnership website is a solution for libraries and one that makes the most sense:
"Digitizing the Collections of Libraries and Museums Digitizing someone’s work is an act of reproduction and is therefore subject to the authorization of the copyright holder. But to let accredited libraries and archives bypass these authorizations, the law could grant them certain exceptions to reproduce works without the prior consent of the rights holders, mainly for preservation purposes. To avail themselves of this privilege, institutions could file a notice of intent to infringe with the Copyright Office, documenting that they’ve made a reasonably diligent, but unsuccessful effort to find the copyright holder. These exceptions should not be extended to cover reproductions on a mass scale, because that would clearly conflict with the artists’ own exploitation of their works and that would prejudice the legitimate interests of the copyright holders, a clear violation of the 1976 Copyright Act, the Berne Convention and Article 13 of the TRIPS agreement, to which the US is a signatory. This proposal is consistent with the submission of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) to the European Union’s i2010 Digital Libraries project. This means our proposal would meet the needs of libraries, museums and archives, harmonize US policy with our trading partners overseas and win wide praise from the creative community in the US, who would not see the rights of their own work put at risk."

Finally, as a freelance artist I support that stated position of a true Orphan Works bill that allows for libraries to work with copyright holders, allow those who visit libraries to have access to these images for their own education and pursuit of knowledge. I do not support any bill that puts undo financial pressure on people or artists especially in these hard times.

Libraries should be in the business of what is best for the public and not what is best for business.

"The first mistake in public business is the going into it." Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lessig + Orphan Works = Artistic Socialism

Lawrence Lessig appeared on the Colbert Report as shown in the above post.
The new argument being thrown out is that current copyright law is turning kids into ..criminals...

As with the Orphan Works bill this nonsense is being exposed for what it is "Artistic Socialism".

Some websites like the following Library Journal have tried to explain the lack of support for Orphan works as "scare tactics".
Imagine that...scare tactics.

The truth is that people are not scared into opposing this bill they instead "get it" for what it is.

What's even more ironic to Lessig's comments on Colbert is that while Lessig offered to allow his book to be downloaded for free on the Colbert website, the publishers did not .

See web screen capture.

Let's hope more people get the issues and move away from forced artistic socialism and libraries getting into the business of business.

(From the Library Journal Website)

The Sad Story of Orphan Works

"...We’ve been covering efforts to open up access to orphan works for years, but in 2008, legislation came close to passage—and in dramatic fashion. The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Bill of 2008passed late on September 26. As Congress headed into overtime in late September to address the troubled financial markets, a flurry of activity in the House of Representatives seemed to open the door to a passage. Ultimately, significant differences between the House and Senate on competing orphan works bills, as well as a well-organized, fear-inducing campaign against the bill by artists and photographers, and a late letter from the Motion Picture Association of America squelched any would-be deal.

Still, the issue remains vital. If passed, an orphan works bill would reduce liability for those who make use of copyrighted works provided they make, and document, a reasonably diligent effort to find the owner. For libraries, this would ease the burden on large-scale archival digitization efforts. Publishers, meanwhile, at odds with libraries on many issues in 2008, also embraced and worked on the bill.

With economic and international crises sure to command Congress’ attention in 2009, it’s questionable whether orphan works will rise again anytime soon. Nevertheless, this year’s effort, the result of continuous hard work and some masterful politicking by library groups and their allies, stands as an achievement worth noting, and at the very least establishes a benchmark for continuing efforts. "

Friday, January 9, 2009

Colbert shows how stupid Re-Mixing is.