I read about this on several artist blogs and heard it on email the past few weeks. This is highly alarming to anyone out there making a living from art. First, the definition of what is at stake:
An Orphaned Work is any creative work of art where the artist or copyright owner has released their copyright, whether on purpose, by passage of time, or by lack of proper registration. In the same way that an orphaned child loses the protection of his or her parents, your creative work can become an orphan for others to use without your permission.
It doesn’t get any better either… What they are attempting to do is redefine what an orphaned work is, and require those that create the work to register it with a mandatory system that is presently not required.
It is currently against international law to coerce people to register their work for copyright because there are so many inherent problems with it. But because big business can push through laws in the United States, our country is about to break with the rest of the world, again, and take your rights away.
With the tens of millions of photos and pieces of artwork created each year, the bounty for forcing everyone to pay a registration fee would be enormous. We lose our rights and our creations, and someone else makes money at our expense.
This includes every sketch, painting, photo, sculpture, drawing, video, song and every other type of creative endeavor. All of it is at risk!
If the Orphan Works legislation passes, you and I and all creatives will lose virtually all the rights to not only our future work but to everything we’ve created over the past 34 years, unless we register it with the new, untested and privately run (by the friends and cronies of the U.S. government) registries. Even then, there is no guarantee that someone wishing to steal your personal creations won’t successfully call your work an orphan work, and then legally use it for free.
In short, if Congress passes this law, YOU WILL LOSE THE RIGHT TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR OWN CREATIONS!