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April 27th, 2011

Orphaned Works & Ephermera: Update:



Last week the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, dismissed all claims in a million dollar lawsuit brought by the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) against the Illustrators’ Partnership of America (IPA) and five named individuals.

In the lawsuit, GAG asserted claims for defamation and interference with contractual relations, alleging that IPA had interfered with a “business relationship” GAG had entered into that enabled GAG to collect orphaned reprographic royalties derived from the licensing of illustrators’ work. GAG alleged that efforts by IPA to create a collecting society to return lost royalties to artists “interfered” with GAG’s “business” of appropriating these orphaned fees.

In her decision, Judge Debra James ruled that statements made by the Illustrators’ Partnership and the other defendants were true; that true statements cannot be defamatory; that illustrators have a “common interest” in orphaned income; and that a “common-interest privilege” may arise from both a right and a duty to convey relevant information, however contentious, to others who share that interest or duty.

Regarding a key statement at issue in the lawsuit: that GAG had taken over one and a half million dollars of illustrators’ royalties “surreptitiously,” the judge wrote:

“Inasmuch as the statement [by IPA] was true, [GAG]’s claim cannot rest on allegations of a reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. Truthful and accurate statements do not give rise to defamation liability concerns.”  (Emphasis added.)

And she noted:

“The plaintiff Guild has conceded that it received foreign reproductive royalties and that it does not distribute any of the money to artists.”

Labor Department filings provided as evidence to the court document that between 2000 and 2007, GAG collected at least $1,581,667 in illustrators’ reprographic royalties. GAG admitted to having collected similar royalties since 1996. GAG’s officers have repeatedly refused to disclose how much money their organization has received to date or how the money has been spent.

The judge concluded that this situation justified an assertion of common interest by IPA. This means that “the party communicating [relevant information] has an interest or has a duty” to convey that information truthfully to others “having a corresponding interest or duty”:

“The duty need not be a legal one, but only a moral or social duty. The parties need only have such a relation to each other as would support a reasonable ground for supposing an innocent motive for imparting the information. Here the plaintiff Guild’s factual allegations demonstrate that the defendants’ statements were both true, and fall within the parameters of the common-interest privilege.” (Emphasis added.)

We hope this decision will end the two and a half years of litigation during which GAG pursued its claims against IPA and artists Brad Holland, Cynthia Turner and Ken Dubrowski of IPA, as well as attorney Bruce Lehman, former Commissioner of the US Patent Office and Terry Brown, Director Emeritus of the Society of Illustrators.

All defendants were participants in a public presentation sponsored February 21, 2008 by 12 illustrators organizations. The presentation was disrupted by GAG’s officers and their attorney. A videotape of the event proves that statements which GAG alleged to be defamatory were made only in response to GAG’s intervention, and that until that time, no speakers had mentioned GAG or GAG’s longstanding appropriation of illustrators’ royalties.

Last year, on January 12, 2010, Judge James issued a prior ruling dismissing nearly all of GAG’s causes of action. This left only a claim asserted by GAG against Brad Holland. But in a response filed with the court February 4, 2010, attorney Jason Casero, serving as counsel for IPA, pointed out that GAG’s remaining claim rested on an allegedly defamatory statement that Holland never made. When confronted with evidence, GAG was forced to admit it had “inadvertently attributed” the statement to Holland.

GAG subsequently filed new motions in an effort to revive its claims against IPA and the other defendants. Last summer the judge consolidated GAG’s multiple motions and on April 18, 2011, she dismissed all ten causes of action against IPA and all the defendants.

GAG served the lawsuit on IPA October 10, 2008, seven days after Congress failed to pass the Orphan Works Act of 2008. The Illustrators’ Partnership and 84 other creators’ organizations opposed that legislation. GAG had lobbied for passage of the House version of the Orphan Works bill. Mandatory lobbying disclosures document that GAG spent nearly $200,000 in Orphan Works lobbying fees.

In our opinion, the issues behind the lawsuit are greater than whether an organization should be allowed to benefit from the millions of dollars that, collectively, illustrators are losing. We believe the reprographic rights issue is linked to both orphan works legislation and the Google Book Settlement, which Federal Judge Denny Chin dismissed on March 22, 2011.

Each of these developments involves an effort by third parties to define artists’ work and/or royalties as orphaned property, and to assert the right, in the name of the public interest or class representation, to exploit that work commercially or to appropriate the royalties for use at their sole discretion. So far, judges have affirmed that copyright is an individual, not a collective right, and that unless one explicitly transfers that right, no business or organization can automatically acquire it by invoking an orphaned property premise. Now the challenge for artists will be to see that Congress does not pass legislation to permit what the courts have so far denied.

We’ll have more to say about this issue in the future. For now we’d like to conclude by thanking our attorney Jason Casero, who provided us with a strong, incisive and heartfelt defense; his law firm, McDermott Will & Emery, which provided us with his services; the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of New York and its Director Elena Paul. We’d also like to thank Dan Vasconcellos, Richard Goldberg, and the over 700 artists and illustrators who in 2008 signed a petition asking GAG (unsuccessfully as it turned out) to drop the lawsuit; the support of so many colleagues was a great tonic at a low time. Finally we’d like to thank the representatives of the 12 organizations that comprise the American Society of Illustrators’ Partnership (ASIP). ASIP is the coalition organization IPA incorporated in 2007 to act as a collecting society to return royalties to artists.

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership  
Recipients may post or email this message in its entirety to any interested party.

Posted by Todd in Blog Home, Orphaned Works at 8:10 PM PST

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November 8th, 2009

Speak out for the rights of artists, authors, and musicians

If you are a working artist, author, or musician, you owe it to yourself to sign this petition to the President and Vice President.

The letter you will be adding your name to:

We, the undersigned, are just a few of the more than 11 million artists living, working, and creating across the United States. Our work brings significant cultural and economic value to our society – and contributes $1.52 trillion to the nation’s GDP. Yet that value is being disregarded as our rights and incentives to create are increasingly under threat.

Hear us as we speak with one voice about the importance of creators’ rights.

We are the essence of America. Since the founding of our country, our work has provided light in the darkness of conflict, humor in the depths of sadness, beauty in the face of ugliness, and reason in the dysfunction of division.

We serve as the foundation of our communities; you find us in schools, performance halls, libraries, museums, community centers, and movie houses. We enrich our culture with a wide range of creative expression, including music, film, software, video games, writing, photography, graphics, and other visual arts.

We contribute in some way to every single industry in the country. Many of us are self-employed. All of us work hard and pay taxes.

Yet, we are under assault. Our rights to control the distribution, use, and reproduction of our works in our vibrant digital age are dismissed by many who do not understand the value we bring to society. They tell us to work harder, create better, and give our works away. Some think that they should control our works and that they should be able to appropriate, perform, and copy them how they please, without our consent, benefit, or participation.

Our freedom as creators lies in the Constitutional rights we cherish, rights given to us to promote our culture. Without these rights, our ability to pursue our creative dreams and to meet the high expectations of those who benefit from our creative works is significantly diminished. As a result, all Americans will suffer.

Mr. President and Vice President, hear our call. We know you understand the value our creative contributions bring to our society and economy, and we know you can encourage our citizens to respect our rights. Please pursue policies supportive of the rights of artists and the encouragement of our creative efforts. Without the proper respect for our rights and works today, it will become even more difficult for us to create in the future.

Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home, Orphaned Works at 2:12 PM PST


October 2nd, 2009

Google Wants; Part III


Orphan Works and the Google Book Settlement / Part III


Compelling Arguments

On September 10, 2009, Marybeth Peters, Register of the US Copyright Office, testified before Congress in opposition to the Google Book Search Settlement. Her arguments on behalf of creators rights are compelling and we support them. However, we note with some irony that they are nearly identical to the arguments we made in opposing the Orphan Works bill last year. We don’t know what conclusions to draw from this fact, but we think it’s fair to draw attention to it.

We’ve picked several examples below and matched them with quotes from our own writings and testimony. In every case, the emphasis is ours.

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “The [Google] settlement is not merely a compromise of existing claims, or an agreement to compensate past copying and snippet display. Rather, it could affect the exclusive rights of millions of copyright owners, in the United States and abroad, with respect to their abilities to control new products and new markets, for years and years to come.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: The bill’s sponsors say it’s merely a small adjustment to copyright law. In fact…its provisions have been drafted so broadly it will orphan the work of working artists. Its consequences will be far reaching, long lasting, perhaps irreversible and will strike at the heart of art itself.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement:
“[The Book Rights Registry] is likely to have the unfortunate effect of creating a false database of orphan works, because in practice any work that is not claimed will be deemed an orphan.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “As clients come to rely on these [visual arts] registries as one-stop shopping centers for rights clearance, any works not found in the registries could be infringed as orphans.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “Compulsory licenses… are scrutinized very strictly because by their nature they impinge upon the exclusive rights of copyright holders…By its nature, a compulsory license ‘is a limited exception to the copyright holder’s exclusive right . . . As such, it must be construed narrowly.'”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “[The Orphan  Works bill] radically abridges the fundamental principal of exclusive rights granted to creators under the copyright law, and creates a sweeping compulsory license permitting large scale unauthorized use of not only older works, the provenance of which may be difficult to determine, but also of the valuable contemporary works that are the economic life blood of those in our profession.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement
: “Compulsory licenses are generally adopted by Congress only reluctantly, in the face of a marketplace failure.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “The Copyright Office only received about 215 relevant letters to their Orphan Works Study. From this they deduced a claim of widespread market failure in commercial markets…” ” But the Copyright Office studied the specific subject of orphaned work. They did not inquire about the workings of commercial markets and there is no evidence in their report that business clients are unable to find the living authors they wish to work with. No evidence whatsoever.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “In summary, the out-of-print default rules would allow Google to operate under reverse principles of copyright law…”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “[The Orphan Works bill] creates the public’s right to use private property as a default position, available to anyone whenever the property owner fails to make himself sufficiently available.” “[I]ts logic reverses copyright law.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “In essence, the proposed settlement would give Google a license to infringe first and ask questions later…”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “Since orphan works transactions would occur only after infringement, the rights holder would have no leverage to bargain for more than the infringer is willing or able to pay.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “[C]opyright law has always left it to the copyright owner to determine whether and how an out-of-print work should be exploited.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “Under copyright law, no author can be compelled to publish his or her work. So by what right of eminent domain can Congress give strangers the right to publish our work without our knowledge, consent or payment?”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “The broad scope of the out-of-print provisions and the large class of copyright owners they would affect will dramatically impinge on the exclusive rights of authors, publishers, their heirs and successors.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill:
“The fundamental problem with the Orphan Works Act is that it’s been drafted so broadly its use cannot be confined to real orphaned work situations.” “To redefine an orphaned work as “a work by an unlocatable author” is to radically re-define the ownership of private property…Since everybody can be hard for somebody to find, this voids a rights holder’s exclusive right to his or her own property.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “Some foreign governments have raised questions about the compatibility of the proposed settlement with Article 5 of the Berne convention, which requires that copyright be made available to foreign authors on a no less favorable basis than to domestic authors, and that the “enjoyment and exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “[P]utting pressure on creators to subsidize the creation of privately-owned registries violates the intent of international copyright law, specifically Article 5(2) of the Berne Convention: “The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement: “The ability of copyright owners and technology companies to share advertising revenue and other potential income streams is a worthy and symbiotic business goal that makes a lot of sense when the terms are mutually determined. And the increased abilities of libraries to offer on-line access to books and other copyrighted works is a development that is both necessary and possible in the digital age. However, none of these possibilities should require Google to have immediate, unfettered, and risk-free access to the copyrighted works of other people. They are not a reason to throw out fundamental copyright principles; they are a pretext to do so.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “The internet has created a culture of appropriation; and immediate global access to artistic works has facilitated piracy, unintentional infringement and plagiary. But instant and unrestricted access to work should not be construed as a necessity just because technology has made it a possibility. That an artist’s work now can be instantly transmitted around the world without the artist’s permission or control does not justify a user’s ‘right’ to take the work.”

*                  *                     *                     *                     *

Marybeth Peters on the Google Book Settlement:
“[T]he settlement would inappropriately interfere with the on-going efforts of Congress to enact orphan works legislation in a manner that takes into account the concerns of all stakeholders as well as the United States’ international obligations.”

IPA on the Orphan Works Bill: “This bill has been drafted behind closed doors, without a needs-assessment study, an economic impact analysis, or an evaluation of how the public would be affected by this transfer of private property from individuals to giant commercial databases…For artists, the most troubling part has been our near-total exclusion from the legislative process.”

“On July 11th [2008], on behalf of all those who oppose this bill, [we] submitted  Amendments to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Those Amendments would make this bill a true orphan works bill. The Amendments have never been considered…This is no way to re-write U.S. copyright law.”


The Register’s full testimony from September 10, 2009 can be found here.
Our comments have been excerpted from various articles posted in 2008 on the IPA Orphan Works blog.

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership

Over 85 organizations opposed the last Orphan Works bills, representing over half a million creators. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.


For news and information, and an archive of these messages:
Illustrators’ Partnership Orphan Works Blog

Posted by Todd in Blog Home, Orphaned Works at 1:46 PM PST


September 29th, 2009

Google Steals; Part II


Orphan Works and the Google Book Settlement / Part II


A Reversal of Copyright Law

Last Friday we summarized the basic details of the Google Book Search Settlement. Like the visual arts “databases” we opposed last year, this agreement would allow both Google and a yet-to-be-created Book Rights Registry to commercially profit from an author’s work whenever they say they can’t locate the author.

Both schemes would force authors to opt out of commercial operations that infringe their work – or to “protect” their work by opting-in to privately owned databases run by infringers. This Hobson’s Choice for authors reverses the principle of copyright law.

The by-product of the Google settlement (again like the Orphan Works bill) would be to establish public access to private property as the default position in copyright law. In other words, it presumes:

a.) that the public is entitled to use your work as a primary right,
b.) that it’s your legal obligation to make your work available, and
c.) that if you fail to do so, you forfeit your exclusive right to control access to your work.

If you’re an author and you wish to keep the book you write from becoming a potential orphan, you’d therefore have to register it with the Book Rights Registry run by the parties that settled with Google (and who will receive an award of $30 million for cutting themselves in).

Advocates of the deal try to justify it by saying it will make more books available to more people than at any other time in history – a claim that’s no doubt true – but therefore they say, as  Andrew Albanese writes in Publishers Weekly, “the massive public good of the deal far outweigh[s] the individual greivances [sic] of rightsholders.”

Yet it’s in this very argument that the danger lies.

Once the Copy Left has established a legal precedent that the property rights of authors can be subordinated to the assertion of public interest, they can build on that principle to enact further statute and case laws to benefit commercial interests. To do this, they’ll have to chip away further at the inherent property rights of individuals.

Orphan Works: “Half a Loaf”
An example of the agenda that underlies both the Google book search settlement and the Orphan Works bill came in May, 2008, at a time when the Orphan Works bill looked to be a shoo-in by early summer. Anticipating a quick mopping up operation, the bill’s advocates were high-fiving one another. But as James V. DeLong of the Convergence Law Institute reminded them, there was still much work ahead.

Calling the Orphan Works bill just “half a loaf,” he hinted at what it would take to permit commercial interests to take the whole loaf:

“These possibly-orphan, sort-of-orphan, and gray literature works simply cannot be made available if the digitizers are required to make one-by-one judgments and seek permission before copying. If they are to be retrieved in useful form, then sooner or later Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and some others must be permitted to digitize on a massive scale.”

Of course he acknowledged that the new reverse copyright law should not deprive intellectual property owners of their “legitimate rights.” But he reaffirmed the Copy Left’s fundamental premise that intellectual property owners should not be entitled to legitimate rights except in situations where they’ve registered their works:

“At some point, some kind of grand grandfathering proceeding will probably be required, a window in which holders of existing rights must reaffirm them or lose them.” (Italics added)

Again, this is the same premise we see at work in the Google book settlement. As Lynn Chu, a principal at Writers Representatives LLC, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2009:

Under the settlement, every rights-owner in America is supposed to hand over all their private contract data, on every edition of every work they ever wrote — and every excerpt permission ever granted to others — at the peril of losing the money Google will be making on their backs. This is a massive burden on everyone in the book industry, making us all, in effect, Google’s data-entry slaves. Indeed, in most cases such information about every permission ever granted is unlocatable. It opens a Pandora’s box of disputes and mistaken claims about who actually owns what.”  (Italics added)

This is identical to our warning last year about the Orphan Works bill:

“[The Orphan Works bill] would force artists either to entrust their entire life’s work to privately owned commercial databases or see it exposed to widespread infringement. It would let giant image banks access our commercial inventory and metadata – and enter our commercial markets as clearinghouses to compete with us for our own clients. I can think of no other field where small business owners can be pressured to supply potential competitors with their content, business data and client contact information.” – Brad Holland, Small Business Administration Roundtable, August  8, 2008

The War on Authors
Both the Google Book settlement and the Orphan Works bill have their intellectual rationale in the war on authors that began decades ago in the obscure theories of Postmodern literary critics. Their fundamental premise is that all creativity is communal and that authors are only the agents through which the community creates. This has led a handful of activist legal scholars to demand changes in the law requiring artists, writers and others to affirm and reaffirm the rights to use their own work by, in effect, licensing it from the public “commons.”

This argument, Marxist in its origins, has found its unlikely champion in those large commercial Internet interests that hope to build Information Age empires supplying businesses and the public with creative “content.”  By defining millions of works as orphans on the premise that some might be, both the Google Book settlement and the Orphan Works bill would allow these opportunists to profit by harvesting the work of others, providing their databases with content they could never afford to create themselves nor license from authors.

Next: Orphan Works and the Google Book Settlement /Part III: Compelling Arguments
The Register of the US Copyright Office has condemned the Google settlement in terms nearly identical to our condemnation last year of the Orphan Works bill. In Part III, we’ll examine those similarities to see the patterns that are emerging from this insidious effort to change copyright law.

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership


For news and information, and an archive of these messages:
Illustrators’ Partnership Orphan Works Blog

Posted by Todd in Blog Home, Orphaned Works at 10:11 PM PST

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September 24th, 2009

Google is a copyright thief


Orphan Works and the Google Book Settlement / Part I


We’ve been asked for news about the Orphan Works bill. Last June Intellectual Property Watch warned that it would be back during the summer. And on June 11th, Senator Orrin Hatch confirmed his intent to reintroduce the bill. We immediately put out a notice to artists. But summer’s over and we’ve had no further news. So far, so good.

Of course Congress has had other priorities: the ongoing financial mess, the health care debate and – on the copyright front – the Google book search controversy. For those who haven’t followed the news about this Google assault on copyright, we’ll try to summarize it.

The World’s Largest Library (Or is it Bookstore?)  
In 2004, Google announced its intent to digitize all of the world’s 80-100 million books – and to make most of them commercially available as orphaned works. The plan has been controversial since its inception.

Google began with the cooperation of several major libraries. The libraries gave Google access to their holdings. The problem is that libraries are libraries; they don’t own the copyrights to the books they hold. In short, they gave Google the rights to other people’s work. So far, Google has scanned over 10 million books.

In 2004, the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers sued Google for copyright infringement. Last October the parties settled. The resulting agreement is 141 pages long, with 15 appendices of 179 pages. The implications for copyright holders are not clear, but what the litigants would get is breathtaking. As Lynn Chu, a principal at Writers Representatives LLC, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2009:

“[I]f approved by the federal court, [it would] permit Google to post out-of-print books for reading, sales, institutional licensing, ad sales, and other publishing exploitations, by Google, online. The settlement gives the class-action attorneys $30 million; a new, quasi-judicial bureaucracy called the Book Rights Registry $35 million…and $45 million for owners infringed up to now — about $60 a title.”

Google would keep just over a third of the profits generated by selling these books online. The rest would go to the Book Rights Registry run by publishers’ and authors’ representatives. In other words, 63% would go to the parties that sued Google. In theory, the Registry would attempt to locate the authors of orphaned works and pay them royalties. But as Ms. Chu points out, the parties that sued Google – and would therefore benefit from Google’s infringement – have themselves traded away other people’s rights in the bargain:

“No one elected these ‘class representatives’ to represent America’s tens of thousands of authors and publishers to convey their digital rights to Google. Nor are the interests of this so-called class identical.”

The US Department of Justice apparently agrees. Last Friday, it filed an objection to the settlement and advised the court to reject the settlement as written. On page 9 of their brief, the DOJ attorneys write:

“The structure of the Proposed Settlement itself, therefore, pits the interests of one part of the class (known rightsholders) against the interests of another part of the class (orphan works rightsholders). Google’s commercial use of orphan works will generate revenues, which will be deposited with the Registry. Any unclaimed revenues, however, will inure to the benefit of the Registry and its registered rightsholders. Thus, the Registry and its registered rightsholders will benefit at the expense of every rightsholder who fails to come forward to claim profits from Google’s commercial use of his or her work…

“The greater the economic exploitation of the works of unknown rightsholders by Google and the Registry, the stronger the incentive for known rightsholders to retain the unclaimed revenues for themselves.” [Emphasis added]

The Department of Justice also warns that the settlement fails to comply with copyright, antitrust laws and the rules of class action litigation.

The US federal court was scheduled to hold a fairness hearing October 7. But over 400 objections from around the world have been filed by rightsholders, competitors to Google and (in addition to the US government) the governments of France and Germany. Yesterday we received news that the fairness hearing has been delayed.

The Google settlement has also been condemned by Marybeth Peters, Register of the US Copyright Office. Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, Ms. Peters stated that it would allow Google to “operate under reverse principles of copyright law,” adding “it could affect the exclusive rights of millions of copyright owners, in the United States and abroad, with respect to their abilities to control new products and new markets, for years and years to come.”

We haven’t had much to say about this agreement because, with the notable exception of childrens’ book illustrations (which for purposes of the settlement are considered part of the text) the agreement doesn’t include visual art. Yet like the Orphan Works bill itself, the Google Book Settlement would be a radical change to copyright law.

Tomorrow we’ll examine some of the ways in which this settlement parallels the Orphan Works bill.

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership


For news and information, and an archive of these messages:
Illustrators’ Partnership Orphan Works Blog:

Posted by Todd in Blog Home, Orphaned Works at 11:49 PM PST

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June 17th, 2009

Orphan Works: Back Again



In Orphan Works Land, no news has been good news, but that’s about to change:

US Copyright Register Marybeth Peters told Intellectual Property Watch that orphan works legislation is expected to be introduced within the next 10 days. It is her understanding there may still be some issues in the House version to be resolved, and there are some stakeholders – such as illustrators and other artists – “who are probably going to lobby pretty hard against it.”

Peters said this issue is important to her, and the fact it came so close to passing last year is almost bittersweet. “What I hope it isn’t … is it’s one magic moment you get” to finally get it passed, then it doesn’t happen, she said.

We don’t mean to disparage the Register’s comments. She’s had a long and distinguished career at the Copyright Office. But her statement deserves a reality check. Illustrators are not opposed to an orphan works bill. We’re opposed to this bill.

We’re opposed because its scope far exceeds the needs of responsible orphan works legislation.

Moreover, illustrators and artists are not the only stakeholders who oppose it. At last count, more than 83 creators organizations are on record against it, representing artists, photographers, writers, songwriters, musicians and countless small businesses.

Last year, we proposed amendments to the Orphan Works Act that would have made it a true orphan works bill. The amendments were drafted by the attorney who was chief legal counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in drafting the 1976 Copyright Act. The amendments were co-sponsored by the Artists Rights Society and the Advertising Photographers of America. They can be found here:

On July 11, 2008, we submitted those amendments to both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. In our preamble we wrote this:

As rights holders, we can summarize our hopes for the Orphan Works Act simply: to see that it becomes a true orphan works bill, with no unnecessary spillover effect to damage the everyday commercial activities of working artists. We’d be happy to work with Congress to accomplish this. No legislation regarding the use of private property should be considered without the active participation of those whose property is at stake.

Last year more than 180,000 letters were sent to lawmakers from our Capwiz site. These letters did not come from obstructionists. They came from citizens whose property is at stake. They may lack the resources of big Internet companies and the access of high powered lobbyists, but last year they spoke. They asked only one thing: that Congress respect their personal property rights and amend this bill to make it nothing more than what its sponsors say they want it to be – a bill that would affect only true orphaned work.

We urge this Congress to listen.

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership

Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home, Orphaned Works at 7:56 PM PST

1 Comment »

December 8th, 2008

Orphan Works: A Lame Duck Countdown, Part V


Orphan Works: A Lame Duck Countdown
Part V. Through the Looking Glass


Orphan Works advocates defend their proposals by saying they’re necessary to put users in touch with copyright owners. They say this isn’t happening now because of a market failure in commercial markets.

Speaking at a Congressional Seminar March 31, 2006, Copyright Office attorney Jule Sigall explained why they believed artists needed Congress to “push” them to register their work with privately owned copyright registries (page 23 of the transcript):

“[A]t this stage, in respect to the legislation…the real question we need to ask and answer is, what kinds of provisions put the right pressure [on photographers and illustrators] to get to that point? Who needs to be pushed there? I mean… I use this line a lot, photographers and illustrators like to say, ‘We haven’t collectivized…’ This is a problem, generally, for their marketplace. It’s hard to have a marketplace where buyers can’t find sellers.” (Emphasis added)

Nothing expresses the looking glass logic of the Orphan Works bill better than this statement by the “principal author” of the Copyright Office report that an amendment legalizing the infringement of millions of commercial copyrights is necessary in order for buyers to find sellers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Todd in Orphaned Works at 1:07 PM PST


December 1st, 2008

Liitle Known Facts about the Orphaned Works Act: Part I

These are bullet points worth using in any letter to your representative. It certainly looks like an underhanded attempt to wrest control of a valuable commodity — your copyright and mine — or make us pay to keep it. Please spread word far and wide, not just to artists, but to writers and photographers as well:


Orphan Works: Lame Duck Countdown


Part I. Little Known Facts

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Todd in Orphaned Works at 12:49 PM PST

1 Comment »

November 16th, 2008

Re: Orphaned Works and GAG suit:

There is, apparently, a Facebook page to link to, use, subscribe to as a fan, whatever:

Artists Against Orphaned Works

Plese write your representatives, blog it, Facebook it, do whatever you can. The livelihoods of your favorite artists are in jeopardy.

Much thanks,


Posted by Todd in Orphaned Works at 11:51 PM PST

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November 15th, 2008

Graphic Artist’s Guild Lawsuit

More Orphaned Works stuff. This comes via email from An Artists’ Representative:

The Graphic Artists Guild has brought a lawsuit for one million dollars against the IPA and to individual
members Brad Holland, Cynthia Turner, Ken Dubrowski, Terry Brown, and their attorney Bruce Lehman. They* are circling a petition for the GAG to drop the lawsuit, and I offered to help by passing the document on to our group. Please read the attached letter and if you agree, sign and email back to stopsuitpetition(at)

It’s no secret that GAG and IPA have disagreed on the issues over the years, most notably with GAG’s support of the Orphan Works bill, however bringing a lawsuit against IPA, in effect punishing them for their criticism of the organization’s failings, is counter-productive to the interests of the artists that they are supposed to represent.

If you have any questions about the petition, you can contact IPA members and former GAG chapter presidents Daniel Vasconcellos dan(at) or Richard Goldberg rag(at)

Download the letter here.

*Post Script: For the record, it should be noted that one of the folks being sued by the GAG wrote to me: “Please allow me to clarify that the 5 of us being sued by GAG are not the authors or circulators of the petition. We are, however, deeply grateful to those who have initiated it and to all who are supporting it.”

Posted by Todd in Orphaned Works at 5:22 PM PST

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