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People, I love ya. You know I love ya.

However, I do not need any more spam about the so-called "Orphaned Art Act." I know you mean well. I know it sounds all scary and like Congress is going to come and take our art.

They aren't, and it isn't. We'll ignore all the legal ramifications, because it's too bloody early and that's a long debate, and settle on the really important point--namely that THE BILL DOES NOT EXIST.

Everything referenced is from the 2005-2006 legislative session. There is no current bill. Anything resembling such a bill died in committee years ago. This is not something you need to freak out about right now. Somebody on the internet, where NOTHING EVER DIES, found it and maybe didn't read the date and decided this was a current threat, and now I'm getting spam about it from earnest, well meaning people who are understandably concerned about their art.

Relax. It's not happening. You can check the public record and find that there are no such bills currently before Congress.

It's gonna be okay. Really.

/public service announcement

...what on Earth is the Orphaned Art Act?

Apparently I missed this particular Internet Freakout Memo.

Looks like it's more formally the "Orphan Works Act". Google on the phrase turns up more.

The proposal didn't sound completely insane from what I(AmNotALawyer) saw of it, although there's always ways to abuse any law. Admittedly, copyright holders whose works were blatantly abused commercially would have to prove to the courts that the effort to find them was farcical to get ludicrous statutory damages, or have damages limited to commercial use and "reasonable" amounts.

To consider our friendly Pear as an example, and presuming the copyright on the work was registered, Ursula would have to go to court on show a Judge that any asshat making the effort of a Google search could find she was the original artist before grabbing the statutory $25k per offence. Even if the court didn't buy that (unlikely, but possible if her lawyer is incompetent enough), anyone who didn't stop using it once she said "hey, that's MINE ya dolt!" (in proper legalese) could be sued on the usual terms, and she could still collect "reasonable" damages (IE, a license fee) from any commercial infringers (like the T-Shirt makers) — though the LOL-WUT non-commercial use before complaining wouldn't net her squat without the judge agreeing she was locatable. Once she's shown up in court, however, anyone who doesn't stop can get sued for the usual statutory damages (with a side order of injunction).

The weakness is that you need to get your own lawyer to show Big Megacorporation Unlimited were a pack of asshats before you can sue punitively, which the BMU lawyers will work to prevent, and try to get you to settle. For the artist personally, settling is the better course... which lets the BMUs of the world run amuck. For artists in general, pursuit to the bitter end (or insisting on public admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement) is better for keeping the BMUs in check... or, of course, keeping the law from being passed.

This is probably has more impact for computer games over ten years old, and books and movies over 50 years old, than for the typical living artist. It's also, as Ursula noted, not current legislation, and thus marooned somewhere beyond Limbo until some maroon of a legislator re-proposes it... at which point, it heads back to the Committee on Swamps.

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Hey Ursula, hey Ursula, have you heard about-

I joke.

But the amount of things that exist only on the internet that real people worry over could form an entire alternate universe.

...Wow. I need to learn to actually look into stuff before I tell everyone about it. x.x

Sorry about being part of the massive spam.

No worries, these things happen! *grin*

Thank you so, so much. Some people don't seem to realize that a little bit of common sense goes a long way.

Thanks for letting me know. I saw someone freaking out abut that late last night and all his/her links were pointing at magazine articles rather than any official document. That, plus the fact I was three beers and a fantastic meal down and no where close to putting the time in to research it, made me reconsider posting about it in my own blog. ;D

Ah- Ursula, people say they're concerned about the hearing that happened on 03/13/2008 hearing on 'promoting the use of Orphan Works':

I know cause I made a big public announcement that the act was dead and old, and now people are telling me it's being redrafted.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
I find it amusing that 3 posts past this one on my LJ watch page is a group notice about this very thing, claiming there's a "New bill with things added!" I looked, and... yeah... same bill.

I admit that it IS scary, but there's a difference between "hypothetical but isn't happening" scary, and "holy shit this is like 5 votes away from being reality" scary.

But, but it's on the Internets! It must be true! WE MUST PANIC!!!!!!!!!!

This is why I always check out Snopes and/or Google anytime I get an e-mail forward like that. At least you know your fans love you.

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The fun part is that anyone can propose legislation!

I am hereby proposing legislation to make everyone wear hats that say "KYNN IS GREAT" on every other Saturday.

Quick! Alert the Intarwebs! :)

Aaah, I knew bullcrap like that wouldn't get past any reading. This violates the basic human rights. :)

And basic human rights are safe?

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It's not quite that simple, as there's at least one group actively whipping up Orphan Works Act panic based on a recent congressional hearing. (Note that hearings aren't anywhere to close to legislation begin passed, of course.)

Here's my overly long analysis of the LiveJournal freak-out over Orphan Works. Feel free to link to it.

That article was the worst piece of crap I think I've read in a while.

Ain't research something? :D

Can someone simply and concisely explain the objections artists have to some sort of act making Orphan Works usable?

'cause speaking as someone who used to work in academic publishing, who's spent months trying to track down the actual rights holder to seventy-year-old photos whose original photographer was dead only to finally have to abandon any hope of using it because no one was willing to claim ownership and offer a licensing agreement. . .it sounds like a really damn good idea.

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