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Call to Artists: Return of Orphan Works Extended Comment Period

Editor’s Note: This article is reposted from the American Society of Illustrators Partnership after we received an email forwarded from the former president of the San Francisco Society of Illustrators by Elaine Frenett. Thanks Elaine!

As of the time we’re posting, the comment form at the US Library of Congress website is not working due to a bad link. We hope you will take a few minutes of your time to write your comment and that you will find the submission form working when you’re ready to send your comments to them. Check it here to see if it’s back up: http://copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/comment-form/. You can find the LoC’s notice of the extension here: http://copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/. And here are the instructions for comment submissions:

The Copyright Office is extending the period to submit public reply comments regarding its April 24, 2015 Notice of Inquiry requesting comments on how certain visual works, particularly photographs, graphic artworks, and illustrations, are monetized, enforced, and registered under the Copyright Act.

DATE: Reply comments are due October 1, 2015.
ADDRESSES: All comments should be submitted electronically using the comment submission page on the Office Web site at http://copyright.gov/policy/ visualworks/. To meet accessibility standards, submitters must upload comments in a single file not to exceed six (6) megabytes (MB) in one of the following formats: The Adobe Portable Document File (PDF) format that contains searchable, accessible text (not an image); Microsoft Word; WordPerfect; Rich Text Format (RTF); or ASCII text file format (not a scanned document). The form and face of the comments must include the submitter’s name and organization (if any). The Office will post all comments publicly on the Office’s Web site exactly as they are received, along with names and organizations. If electronic submission of comments is not feasible, please contact the Office at 202–707–8350 for special instructions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine Rowland, Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights, by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 202–707–8350.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 24, 2015, the Copyright Office published a Notice of Inquiry inviting public comments on certain visual works. The initial comments were due on July 23, 2015 and reply comments currently are due on August 24, 2015. It appears, however, that some stakeholders may need additional time to file reply comments. To facilitate full and adequate public comment, the Office hereby extends the time for filing reply comments from August 24, 2015 to October 1, 2015.

Dated: July 21, 2015.

Catherine Rowland,

Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights.

THE RETURN OF ORPHAN WORKS

The U.S. Copyright Office Seeks Artists’ Comments

For more than a year Congress has been holding hearings for the drafting of a brand new U.S. Copyright Act.

There is no bill yet. But the Copyright Office has issued recommendations to Congress for a law that would replace current copyright law.

These recommendations include a resurrection of the failed Orphan Works Act of 2008.

That bill called for a return to copyright registration for every picture an artist wished to retain the rights to. Registration would not actually protect your work — an infringer could still infringe you. But by registering it, you would preserve your right to sue in federal court.

Unregistered pictures would still be yours and in theory, clients would still have to get your permission to use them. But if they were to conclude that they had made a “reasonably diligent” but unsuccessful effort to find you, then they could infringe the work as “orphaned.”

The Copyright Office says that several other artists’ issues are “ripe” for legislation: copyright small claims, resale royalties, and other forms of secondary licensing which most artists have never heard of.

The Copyright Office has issued a special call for letters from visual artists asking what challenges we face in licensing and protecting our copyrights. Many of you have already written. We hope many more will do the same.

DEADLINE: THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2015, 5:00PM EDT

New deadline is October 1, 2015.

American artists can submit letters online here.

Non-U.S. artists can email their letters to the attention of:

  • Catherine R. Rowland
    Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
    U.S. Copyright Office
    [email protected]

Read the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry.

Read the 2015 Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report.

 

PLEASE WRITE THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE

Because of our past opposition to orphan works legislation, the Copyright Office has issued a special Notice of Inquiry on Visual Works. In it, they acknowledge that visual artists face special problems in the marketplace and they’ve asked artists to respond to five questions:

“The Office invites comments that address the subjects listed below. When submitting a comment, please identify the nature of your interest in this subject (e.g., whether you are a creator, licensee, etc.):

“1. What are the most significant challenges related to monetizing and/or licensing photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations?

“2. What are the most significant enforcement challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?

“3. What are the most significant registration challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?

“4. What are the most significant challenges or frustrations for those who wish to make legal use of photographs, graphic art works, and/or illustrations?

“5. What other issues or challenges should the Office be aware of regarding photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations under the Copyright Act?”

[Emphases added for clarity]

And we might suggest a 6th question of our own:

6. What are the most significant challenges artists would face if these new copyright proposals become law?

 

SAMPLE LETTERS

Since most artists have never written to lawmakers before, many of you have asked us for sample letters. It is important that the Copyright Office receive unique letters.

Eight artists have provided their letters to inspire you to write. The letters are poignant examples written respectfully by artists telling their own unique story about their experience and concerns:

  • LETTER 1: “I’m writing to stress that for me, and for artists like me, copyright law is not an abstract legal issue. Our copyrights are our assets. Licensing them is how we make our livings.” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 2: “As a freelance illustrator, I need to maintain revenue streams in order to make a living for my family. The resale of my past images is part of my day to day way of doing business.” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 3: “My art is reasonably well known since it has served the advertising, editorial, public relations and historical documentation needs of the aerospace industry, publications, the military services and air and space museums for 68 years.” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 4: “I am writing to you as an award winning professional illustrator of over 40 years whose work has appeared in many major publications, books and advertisements, both nationally and internationally.” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 5: “I have been a professional medical illustrator since 1975, and self-employed since 1981. During the course of my career, I have created thousands of illustrations…” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 6: “Copyright is the basis of my income and ability to support my business. It is the only way I have to protect the accuracy and integrity of my work, and to negotiate an appropriate fee for re-licensing.” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 7: “My specialty area is fetal development and women’s health illustration… The protection of these images is of utmost importance to my livelihood, and I have struggled to fight the rampant piracy of them, especially by political groups.” Read more.

 

  • LETTER 8: “I am writing to ask that you create policy to protect visual authors and their exclusive rights, and support a sustainable environment for professional authorship.” Read more.

 

Remember, no one is asking you to write a legal brief. Copyright law is a business law, and the lawyers writing these laws know little or nothing about our business.

Let’s explain to them how the laws they’re writing will affect us.


BELOW: Podcast by Children’s Book Illustrator Will Terry, “Everything You Know About Copyright Is About To Change”:

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