This Just In: The Orphan Bill Threatens Copyright for Visual Artists

Just came into the in-box. Not sure why so long but……
check this out, all of you who create any visual art in the US. And for those around the world, pay close attention. Please copy and paste the URL’s in the letter for more info

From the APA:

“Today at 2pm EST The House of Representatives is going to “markup” the current proposed Orphan Works bill. In a nutshell, means that they will go through the motions of a debate and perhaps vote to keep moving it forward or table it for a while. This Bill will be disastrous to photographers and visual artists in general. It will devalue what we photographers make our living from which is licensing our copyrights. Originally the bill was put forward to help museums, and educational institutions have access to old copyrighted items of historical value where the copyright holders are dead or impossible to find. However, this bill as written goes way beyond that goal.

Here are just a few of the significant negative impacts this bill will have on our livelihood:

Any published or unpublished work, including images that reside or have ever resided on the web, will become potential orphans if this bill becomes law. The consequences of this blanket stripping of copyright protection will be a gold mine for opportunists. Within two weeks of the issuance of the Orphan Works Report in 2006, countless domain names associated with “orphan works” were registered by commercial interests in preparation for the profit taking that will result if this legislation is passed. This bill will allow stock agencies and commercial archives to harvest these newly created “orphans,” alter them slightly to make them “derivative works,” then copyright these derivatives as their own “creative” works.
Photographers will be sued by models for allowing the works to “go orphan.” This wave of litigation between models, photographers and the users of orphan works over publicity and privacy rights will be a particularly disastrous consequence of the proposed legislation.
Mandatory Attribution: The Copyright Office has suggested that authors must bear the burden of including attribution in their works, so as to prevent their works from being orphaned. In other words the user or infringer of any work has the upper hand. It is up to the artist to make sure that they have complied with all the registration and paid the registration fees that goes to a commercial enterprise which will manage the database.

There are a few trade organizations including some photographic organizations that are supporting this bill on the premise that it’s the best deal we can get. I disagree; it’s APA’s job, as a trade association to keep fighting for our member’s rights, and not throw in the towel when it is convenient or perhaps profitable for the trade association. There has been a good amount of closed door negotiating with the powers in Washington by a few trade associations who are willing to accept this proposed bill as it is now written. Many associations have been left out of those negotiations, including APA, and now we are being labeled as naysayers and not team players because we will not accept the bill as it stands.

There is so much wrong with this bill that it needs to be thrown out and rewritten.

Please take a few minutes and get informed on these bills and the issues at hand.

Download & read APA’s position paper on this topic:

John Harrington’s Photo Business Forum Blog Post:

Most importantly, I implore everyone to go to this website as soon as possible: where you can send a letter to your congressman telling him or her not to support this bill. Forward it to every artist you know, because this will affect all of us. We must get the word out and kill this Bill before it puts many an artist out of business.


William Vazquez
APA|NY Chairman

27 West 20th St., Suite 601 New York, NY 10011
p 212-807-0399 f 212-727-8120


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