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The Art Business
02 May 08 08:29 IST

We are all aware, to one extent or another, of the meaning of copyright. Most artists do not know how to protect it and have a vague idea that it is something that they always have and that no one can take it away from them.

Unfortunately this is not true. At the moment in the USA, under the Bush administration, there is a new law which congress is trying to introduce. It gives anyone who finds a piece of art, even if it is signed, the right to reproduce it without compensating the artist, by claiming that they could not find the artist. This kind of work will be called an 'Orphaned Work'. A work without it's parent.

The new law will especially effect European artists. It will make the USA the new China. Where copyright is a luxury not a right.

If someone in the USA finds your work. Does a quick internet search for you or your art and finds no result' they can claim that they have the right to reproduce the work and sell it.

Some companies in the USA are already beginning to do this. Recently a friend of mine, who lives in England, found her work reproduced on a range of products and the person who stole it claimed that they had the right to use the work because they could not find her. They claimed that the work was an 'Orphaned Work'. This law has not yet been introduced but companies are already starting to abuse it.

The next post will give you more information on what to do.

02 May 08 08:29 IST

You are cordially invited to attend an important industry-wide event

Don’t Let Congress Orphan Your Work
An open forum to oppose the Orphan Works Act of 2008
Tuesday, May 6 6:00 PM
The Society of Illustrators
128 East 63rd Street
New York, NY 10065
Admission will be free

The Orphan Works Act of 2008 will endanger the rights of anyone who creates intellectual property.

It will expose your art to commercial infringement. It will include work from professional paintings to family snapshots. It will include published and unpublished work. It will include any image that resides or has ever resided on the internet. It will force you to register every picture you do with privately-held commercial registries. It will make all unregistered works potential orphans.

This radical change to U.S. copyright law will shift the burden of diligence from infringers to rights holders. It is wrong to give infringers the right to make money from your property without your knowledge or consent. You should not have to pay businessmen to keep the work you’ve created.

The Orphan Works Act is an assault on national and international copyright laws. It’s an assault on the property and privacy rights embodied in them.

Illustrators, photographers, fine artists: let’s come together and act to keep Congress from orphaning our work.

This event will be webcast live.
Panelists at this forum will include:

- Brad Holland Hall of Fame artist who has testified against the Orphan Works Act of 2006 in both the House and Senate
- Cynthia Turner Award-winning medical artist who has collaborated in written testimony to both the House and Senate
- Constance Evans Photographer, painter and Executive Director of Advertising Photographers of America
- Terry Brown Director Emeritus of the Society of Illustrators, currently Director of the American Society of Illustrators Partnership
- Others to be announced

To learn more about the Orphan Works Bill, listen to the interview with Brad Holland:

mp3 version: LINK
YouTube version: LINK

For additional background on Orphan Works, go to the IPA Orphan Works Resource Page for Artists

If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at:
Place "Add Name" in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area.

07 May 08 20:30 IST

Hi everyone

To sum up, the Orphan Works bill basicly proposes that if your images cannot be identified as belonging to you and as long as a person does a basic search for an image in an attempt to find the author / artist, that if they don't succeed they can call a work and 'Orphan Work' and use it any way that they want. If they do there is no need to compensate you beyond what they think you deserve and there is a cap on that of $5,000 max.

So now is the time to take action!
Don't delay!!

Here's the official information.


Take Action: Don't Let Congress Orphan Our Work

We’ve set up an online site for visual artists to e-mail their Senators and Representatives with one click.

This site is open to professional artists, photographers and any member of the image-making public.

We’ve provided sample letters from individuals representing different sectors of the visual arts.

If you’re opposed to the Orphan Works act, this site is yours to use.

For international artists and our colleagues overseas, we’ve provided a special link, with a sample letter and instructions as to whom to write.

2 minutes is all it takes to write Congress and protect your copyright:


Please forward this message to every artist you know.

If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at:
Place "Add Name" in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area.
To have your name removed from this mailing list, send a reply email with “Remove Name” in the subject line. You will receive verification.

07 May 08 20:33 IST

Imagine one of your paintings on the side of a pack of cigarettes being sold to children in Asia and you have no say in the matter.

08 May 08 01:33 IST

Tom, I understand where you're coming from however there is no protection of anything any longer, things have changed, images, ideas and thoughts have never really been protected. Inventor's patents have very little meaning. The big corporation will always win over the smaller innovator because they have the means to back up their versions of the same idea, it might not be fair but it is the way of the world. We have to change our thinking about everything. I know of people who are afraid to upload images to websites such as this one because they are afraid that their images might be misappropriated, it's a concept beyond me as I own the original or know who does. Besides very few people are interested in the images and I'm the first amongst them, only being infatuated with the original and for that there are very few and becoming even fewer appreciators. Images, like dreams or thoughts are floating everywhere, they're a product of all of us. Shall we copy-write dreams?

Personally in answer to your imaginary query, I would be delighted. If any of my images in this new democratic world of complete freedom of imagery and ideas, all for free (a radically new concept yet one that is inevitable and revolutionary) can do something positive for the world like providing some pleasure to some kids who would have very little other pleasure in their lives other than, let's say tobacco, then I'm all for it. After all when I'm dead my life's work goes down the toilet. If what you're suggesting should happen, at least I would die knowing I had at least some effect. We all have to die of something, to my mind cigarettes are as good, maybe even better than art.

08 May 08 22:41 IST

If you don't have any hope what are you doing in the business area? Different people live in different worlds. You shouldn't chastise those that don't live in yours or have the same aspirations as you.

08 May 08 23:32 IST

This is a forum and I'm not chastising anyone, just offering my opinion which you're free to disagree with.

09 May 08 16:09 IST

The contact person in the WTO is

Boris Kokin
Senior Legal Counsellor
Copyright Law Division


17 Jun 08 23:34 IST

A Million People Against the Orphan Works Bill

We support this petition. We urge you to sign it.
Please forward the link and urge others to sign.

You can help increase the power of the petition by signing
your real name and listing your artistic specialties.

If you are not a US citizen, we suggest that you note your country,
and state if it is a member of the Berne Convention.

This petition is sponsored by A Million People Against the Orphan Works Bill,
a new grassroots group founded by multimedia journalist Steve Lehman on
Facebook and Flickr. All people are welcome to participate; it is not exclusive
to these websites.

In 1987, Lehman broke the story of Tibetan unrest, later profiled in his award winning
book "The Tibetans Struggle to Survive." As a visual artist intimately acquainted with the
power of free speech, the protection afforded by the right to privacy, and the critical need
for independent voices, Lehman, like the rest of us, is deeply troubled by any national
policy that affects artists' control over their works.

Please forward this message to every artist you know.

For additional information about Orphan Works developments, go to the IPA Orphan Works
Resource Page for Artists at: