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May 13, 2008

a call to action on a pair of copyright bills

Antrese.net: Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008


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Comments (6)

I certainly hope these bills do not pass.

I first learned about orphan works and about people trying to pass bills such as these from a podcast over on Core77: http://www.core77.com/blog/broadcasts/core77_broadcast_brad_holland_on_intellectual_property_interviewed_by_steve_heller_6714.asp

I've never written to a senator or congressman before, perhaps now is a good time to try that out.

Posted by: jeremy at May 13, 2008 9:34 PM

Unfortunately, Lawrence Lessig is off the grid at the moment, but this is worth a look.

Posted by: Pseudonym at May 13, 2008 11:18 PM

A video on how badly Disney is raping the country with copyright. Yeah! Fun!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=CJn_jC4FNDo

Posted by: Darcy at May 14, 2008 10:41 AM

This is a bit dated but speaking of copyright infringement, check out the Improv Everywhere site regarding the use of one of their events in a Law and Order episode. If "Joe Anybody" tried to do something like that with their property, I think NBC would be on them like duckies on water!

http://improveverywhere.com/

Posted by: jurastudio at May 14, 2008 9:25 PM

I really think this is a good idea, before 1976 copyright wasn't an automatically given thing, if you wanted protection from the government of your work you had to summit it to the library of congress and get very limited term of 14 years with the option to renew once. Today your automatically given copyright of a work that lasts the life of the author plus 70 years. So it used to be that all works could be shared and modified freely only 28 years after it had been published however, today the only things the public domain are deadlocked to authors that had died before 1938 thanks to the copyright act of 1976 and the copyright term extension acts congress has been passing over the years.

I think it is absurd to have copyright last that long, I mean how much of an incentive do you need to create after you are dead? There are plenty of orphaned works out there that people care about but can't do anything to save them. Granted that the example given by the copyright office of restoring a old photo isn't the best, however I think the greater benefit is that there are a hell of a lot of old films, books, magazines etc. that not many people care about that can be restored, digitalized and shared. Most of the time the person who owns the copyright to a older work dose not even know they own it in the first place, because they had bought smaller companies that owned copyrights then sold parts of this and that to other people and then they sold that to make who owns copyrights to things into a whole big fucking mess of no one knowing who owns what.

I think that the idea that this law is only going to be used to legally steal people's copyrights is otter bullshit. If your still alive there is no way the copyright office will give this an orphan work seal. Once more copyright wasn't automatically given before 1976 and it seems to me that artists did just fine registering and keeping track of their works on their own before that. Even if you are paranoid there are other things out there like creative commons that allow you with no fee to license your work in a way you see fit (as someone who is actively photographing things, drawing and writing stuff; this is the route I go and it has led to very cool things that I will not go into detail to.)

We are living in the age of information, why the hell are we restricting the spread of it? In the realm of books that fall under copyright most of them are out of print. This means artists aren't making money when a copy is sold (copies are only sold at used book stores), publishers aren't making money when a copy is sold (again copies are only sold at used book stores), so why don't we let people who still care about the work declare it as an orphan that way they can easily redistribute it. The wold is made better because there is more information freely available. The author isn't harmed because he or she wasn't making money on the work it the first place nor is the publisher harmed because again they weren't making available copies in the first place everyone benefits by more works being available and no one loses anything because they weren't gaining anything in the first place.

I was in full support of something called the Eldred act that the basic idea was if you cared about a work that you had the copyright for, you needed to send in a refundable dollar to continue to have the claim over that work. The brilliance in this is that there would once again be a database of the works that are copyrighted (just as there was before 1976 when you still had to claim copyright to the copyright office and send a copy of your work to the library of Congress) the things that were indeed orphaned can move into the public domain and everyone knew who owned what and who they would have to contact if they wanted to use a work in something so they can be rightly paid. Sadly, the bill was killed because the copyright maximalists thought they should not have to pay (which is not the case because the dollar for each work would be given back to them) anything to protect their works and that their copyrights were a right that should be automatically granted. The thing is the framers of the Constitution called what we call copyright today as a creators monopoly and that it should be granted when the owner of the work took the steps for it to be granted and it should only for a limited time. That way no one stops creativity from continuing because one entity can't assert the rights over everything, and that there was an incentive that the persons making works were protected for a time that it mattered and then they would have to create something new to continue being profitable over their works.

I know I've been ranting along for a while, and it may seem like a unimportant thing but it really one of the most valuable things to our society and culture if you look what is at stake here. Every new work out there takes parts of the past and reworks them to make something new, if no one can draw upon the past then nothing new will ever be mad.

There are plenty of examples of people stopping other people from making works because it may or may not infringe on their copyright and if we are to continue this wonderful idea that is nearly everywhere on the Internet of taking parts of other people's works modifying it and sharing it again to show the rest of the world. We need something like this for two reasons, to expand the scope of knowledge out there to freely modify, and also to stop others who want to stop us from expressing ourselves the way we should be able to.

I really hope this makes sense and this bill is not stopped because of a small minority's fear that they are going to have their work stolen. There will be really great benefits and I can't tell you because right now they are only in the minds of the people who are creative.

Posted by: Julian at May 20, 2008 11:36 PM

Hey, my name is Tyson O'Donnell and I am a product marketing manager for iCopyright.

Julian I agree with most of what you said. This bill won't allow for people to easily steal peoples work, however that does not mean that content creators should not take steps to make sure their content is protected. One such service out their is ©reators. It is in beta testing with iCopyright, an award-winning service that helps content creators protect, promote, and monetize their creative works, while not erecting barriers for people who want to share and use those works.

©reators is a free and strives to strike that delicate balance between creator's rights, user's rights, and the greater good. The ©reators beta site is http://Creators.iCopyright.com.

Services like ©reators will make sure no work gets orphaned that shouldn't be.

Posted by: Tyson O'Donnell at June 3, 2008 1:39 PM

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