Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Spoke Too Soon

I got this nervous note from the Society of Illustrators via the Advertising Photographers of America, so take it as you will. I wasn't aware that the subcommittee, headed by Congressman Berman, was being abolished. Congressman Berman, long a friend to creators, wanted a different chairmanship this time out (as Marybeth Peters told me in January.)

Lots of bills get slipped by this way, and the Orphan Works Bill is bad news for individual creators (sorry, Howard):

Orphan Works Update: Congress has reconvened today.


They're scheduled to be in session until Friday, although that could change. And although sponsors of the Orphan Works bill say publicly that it won't come up, sources have told us they'll try to use the lame duck session to pass it by means of another back room deal.

Currently the situation in Washington is fluid, but if deals are being made, they'll be made before the bill is placed on the Suspensions calendar. Then they'll try to pass it immediately. How we respond will depend on developments. But while we keep watch, consider this news from the National Journal, Nov. 12, 2008:

Conyers To Abolish IP Subcommittee On Judiciary Panel
by Andrew Noyes

"House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers will abolish the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property in the new Congress and instead keep intellectual property issues at the full committee level, a Judiciary aide told CongressDaily today."

This is the subcommittee that spawned the Orphan Works Act and placed it on the "Rocket Docket." Yet remember last spring, when those lobbying for this bill warned us that unless we accepted it - no matter how bad it was - that the next chairman of the Subcommittee would be a copyright foe and would pass a worse one? Well, now the Subcommittee itself won't exist. So much for urging artists to bet against themselves!

This bill is very controversial. It would strip ordinary citizens of their intellectual property rights without due process. This is no way to pass legislation that would radically change US property laws. The bill can be fixed, but there is no time to fix it in a lame duck session. Stay tuned.

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership

Over 80 organizations oppose this bill, representing over half a million creators.

U.S. Creators and the image-making public can email Congress through the Capwiz site: 2 minutes is all it takes to tell the U.S. Congress to uphold copyright protection for the world's artists.

INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS please fax these 4 U.S. State Agencies and appeal to your home representatives for intervention.

CALL CONGRESS: 1-800-828-0498. Tell the U.S. Capitol Switchboard Operator "I would like to leave a message for Congressperson __________ that I oppose the Orphan Works Act." The switchboard operator will patch you through to the lawmaker's office and often take a message which also gets passed on to the lawmaker. Once you're put through tell your Representative the message again.

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. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.

Please post or forward this message to any interested party.
Stop the US Orphan Works, act now.