Saturday, May 10, 2008

Orphan Works Act

Ricevo questa email da Malcolm Mayes, uno dei più noti vignettisti politici canadesi, nonchè presidente di Artizans Entertainment Inc., che distribuisce i miei lavori in tutto il mondo.
Riguarda l'Orphan Works Act, un decreto attualmente in discussione presso il Congresso degli Stati Uniti che, se approvato, avrà pesanti conseguenze sugli artisti visuali di tutto il mondo.
Leggete (lo so, è piuttosto lungo e in inglese, ma credetemi è importante), diffondete e, soprattutto firmate!


Dear Piero:
I get a lot of 'Political Action' emails sent to the Artizans office and few are worth mentioning. However, I recently received two emails that ARE VERY IMPORTANT and they should be read by every artist no matter where they live. Both emails deal with the Orphan Works Act that is pending in the U.S. Congress. Even if you live outside of the U.S., this act will eventually affect you in a big way. If you live in the U.S. or know artists who reside in the U.S., you should read and act on these emails.

Email 1 was sent by Scott MacNeill, a talented Artizans illustrator. Email 2 came via Nick Anderson, President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC).

Malcolm Mayes

1. Scott MacNeill Email

Hello everybody:
Most of you know, I am not the sort of person who sends out 'Chain' or 'Political Action' eMails for any reason.

However...You should know the Orphan Works Act of 2008 Bill pending in Congress is a nightmare in the making for all visual artists.

In a nutshell... ANY visual work you have created in the past or future that can be found on the internet, in any form, at any site, will no longer be protected by copyright!

Instead of the present copyright protection, you will be forced to pay for a service to register your work to prevent unauthorized usage. If you do not protect your work with these registeries...ANYBODY can declare your work ORPHAN and use it without copyright permission or payment.

We are having a hard enough time trying to make a living as professional artists without having to pay to protect our copyright, a copyright presently provided by law (both USA and International). This payment plan is especially burdensome as EACH INDIVIDUAL PIECE will require separate registration and payment.

There are many more disturbing things in these pending Orphan Works Bills (That includes personal photos), but I don't want to bother you any more than necessary.

PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE... Go to this website:

There are many prepared eMail letters here that you can easily send in to voice your opposition to these bills.

Thanks and sorry to bother you like this...
but it is important to block this action.

Scott MacNeill

2. Email from Nick Anderson , President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC)

Hello Malcolm:
If you're anything like me, you've heard about the Orphan Works bills now before Congress, but you're so busy with your day job it's hard to find time to research it.

Well, I've spent the last couple of weeks looking into it at the behest of some prominent illustrator's and cartoonists outside the AAEC. I've consulted with attorney, Stu Reese, to make sure I fully understood the ramifications of the pending legislation. Suffice it to say, I'm glad I took the time to educate myself.

If these bills pass as currently envisioned, you'll wish you took the time to scream about it. The best thing would be to contact your legislators via phone or faxed letter. You may want to consider picking up your drawing pen, as well. If you're short on time, feel free to use this quick, pre-formatted email tool:

I've drawn a cartoon about the Orphan Works legislation and posted it to my blog, along with an explanation of the issue and helpful links:
While it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to wade through congressional legislation, I've tried to boil it down to the essential elements in the blog entry. While I can't attach the cartoon on these mass emails, you can read the text here:

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by some colleagues concerned with a major revision of U.S. copyright law being considered by both houses of Congress. They warned me that if the bills are approved, artists would lose a great deal of control they currently hold over their copyrights. The legislation is moving quickly, and there isn't much time to stop it. "Orphan works" are copyrighted works whose author or heirs cannot be located.

I support the narrow goal of making truly orphaned works (that is, ones by deceased authors) available for use by museums and archivists. But proposed legislation is written so broadly that it will almost certainly unleash a torrent of mischief by unscrupulous infringers, with little to fear in the way of legal consequences.

The legislation imposes new and onerous burdens on the current holders of copyrights to protect their work, while severely curtailing their ability to collect damages. It devalues their work in the marketplace and will open up a Pandora's box of potential infringement scenarios, all while placing the burden for policing the marketplace on artists and authors.

To quote from one of the Illustrator's Partnership resource pages: "If enacted, this bill would force every person who creates any visual image - from a professional work of art to a family snapshot - to register every picture with a for-profit commercial registry or else risk seeing it exposed to commercial infringement by anyone who can successfully claim an orphaned work defense. This is a radical departure from any existing business models or practices in the field of copyright."

And written from the artist's perspective: "Why does this matter to me?

o Creative control and ownership: No one can use or change my work without my permission.
o Value: In the marketplace my ability to sell exclusive rights to a client triples the value of my work.

The Orphan Works Act would end that exclusive right because

o It would let anyone who can't find me (or who removes my name from my work and says he can't) to infringe my work.
o Since infringements can occur anytime, anywhere in the world,
o My work could be stolen countless times, but I might never find out about it.
o That means that under this bill, I would never again be able to assure a client that my work hasn't been - or won't be - infringed.
o Therefore I would never again be able to guarantee a client an exclusive right to license any of my work.
o This means my entire inventory - my life's work - would be devalued by at least 2/3 its potential worth from the moment this bill takes effect."

Thanks for your time.
Nick Anderson
AAEC President