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Orphaned Works Legislation

This was just brought to my attention from a friend. Apparently, there is some legislation concerning orphaned works. Naturally, one must take this with a grain of salt, as this seems very scary for creators everywhere.Photos on the internet could be orphaned. With tens of millions of photos shared online with services like Flickr, Shutterfly and Snapfish, there is a huge opportunity for unauthorized use of your photos... legally. While the odds of this actually happening are very low, it's still a very scary thought. This has been making rotations in Congress for the last two years and thankfully has been shot down each time. How about another choice scenario from the article?It gets even better. Anyone can submit images, including your images. They would then be excused from any liability for infringement (also known as THEFT) unless the legitimate rights owner (you) responds within a certain period of time to grant or deny permission to use your work.Please be sure to read the rest of the article at AWN. Also, check up on the resources provided by the Illustrators' Partnership of America. You can also view some information on the bill itself. It will likely not pass (if it even shows up in congress again), but it doesn't hurt to be on the safe side. I will post the majority of the bill below.SUMMARY AS OF: 5/22/2006--Introduced. Orphan Works Act of 2006 - Limits the remedies available in a copyright infringement action if the infringer proves that: (1) the infringer performed and documented a reasonably diligent search in good faith to locate the copyright owner before using the work, but was unable to locate the owner; and (2) the infringing use of the work provided attribution to the author and owner of the copyright, if known.Requires the Register of Copyrights to make information available from authoritative sources to assist users in conducting and documenting a reasonably diligent search. Permits an award of reasonable compensation for the use of the infringed work, except if: (1) the infringement is performed without any commercial advantage and for primarily a charitable, religious, scholarly, or educational purpose; and (2) the infringer ceases the infringement expeditiously after receiving notice of the claim for infringement.Allows the court to impose injunctive relief to prevent or restrain the infringing use, but such relief shall account for harm caused to the infringer due to reliance on having performed a reasonably diligent search. Prohibits the court from imposing injunctive relief that restrains the continued preparation or use of a new work that recasts, transforms, adapts, or integrates the infringed work with the infringer's original expression in a new work of authorship if the infringer pays reasonable compensation and provides attribution to the copyright owner. Requires the Register of Copyrights to conduct an inquiry with respect to remedies for copyright infringement claims seeking limited amounts of monetary relief, including consideration of alternatives to disputes currently heard in the U.S. district courts.While this applies to all created works, I can see webcomics being pretty huge victims in all of this. So, read the article, let us know what you think and if you're planning on acting to defend your creative rights. The odds of this going through are very slim, but I feel this is important enough to pass along regardless. __________________________________ EDIT: Thoughts on why people are likely panicking over nothing. While I agree this is mostly hullaballoo over nothing, it's making enough rounds in different places where I felt I should cover the situation.There is no bill before Congress that enacts any sort of Orphan Works Act. There was a bill in 2006, called the 'Orphan Works Act of 2006' (H.R. 5439), introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on May 22, 2006, with no co-sponsors. H.R. 5439 was introduced in the House Judiciary Committee, which assigned it to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. The subcommittee passed it back up to the full Judiciary Committee with a voice vote. The full committee did nothing with the bill and it died in committee. The Orphan Works Act has not been reintroduced during the 2008 congressional session. Will it be? Possibly. What will it say? Nobody knows yet -- Illustrators' Partnership admits as much in an update on their web site. 

Re: Orphaned Works Legislation

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Here's a good round-up of the status of the orphan works debate right now.


I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Orphan Works scare

Might be worth reading tech writer and journalist Kynn Bartlett's comments about this alarm.

Re: Orphan Works scare

hpkomic's picture

Thank you, I went ahead and updated the post on The Scienteers. I agree with Kynn, completely, but I think it's an issue which should be raised anyway.

The panic is definitely the most interesting aspect of all this.