Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Orphans Still

The best news about legislation I've heard in a long time came across the transom this morning: the Orphan Works Bill is dead. At least for now.

The Orphan Works Bill is a misguided attempt which would make copyright registration practically worthless, because an unauthorized user could make certain claims about unsuccessful attempts to reach a copyright owner, go ahead and use the work, and the owner would be limited in the amount of damages he or she could collect.

Why spend $45 to register your copyright if you don't have the power of $150,000 for damages for intentional infringement? Beats me.

I think Congress should pass a bill that says I can build my house on any plot of land I just see sitting unused--after all shouldn't someone who's willing to make good use of something have rights over someone who just lets it lay around? That's a simple analogy, but the likelihood of me being able to convince a Congress person to let me do what I want with someone else's real property is just about zero. But somehow, I'm supposed to be happy when an infringer takes away my right to control my images.