Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A new way to completely screw artists-Is This For Real??

As if there aren't already enough ways to screw artists and creators, here is the latest news that everyone is sending me.

I guess we need someone who knows what to do about this to get some action going to protect creative people from non-creative people who can just instantly get copyrights on our work.
Any smart cartoonists out there who know what to do about it?


Today the House and Senate sent us draft copies of the new Orphan Works Act of 2008. They haven’t officially released it yet, but we’ve been told the Senate will do so this week. A quick analysis confirms our worst fears and our early warnings. If these proposals are enacted into law, all the work you have ever done or will do could be orphaned and exposed to commercial infringement from the moment you create it.

A Webcast interview with Brad Holland about this bill is now available at:

Please listen to it because this radical proposal, now pending before Congress, could cost you your past and future copyrights.

On Saturday April 5,2008, artist and producer Mark Simon interviewed Hall of Fame illustrator Brad Holland on the subject of Orphan Works legislation. The warnings in this interview have now been confirmed by the advance drafts of the bill. Learn what artists groups are doing and how you can help oppose this radical departure from traditional copyright law and business practice.

The Illustrators’ Partnership is currently working with our attorney - in concert with the other 12 groups in the American Society of Illustrators Partnership to have our voices – and yours - heard in Congress. We’ll keep you posted regarding how you can do your part.

Mark Simon has worked on over 2,500 productions in the last 20 years as a director, producer, story artist, animator and designer. His clients include Disney, Universal, Viacom, Sony, HBO, Nickelodeon, Steven Spielberg, Fox, USA Networks, ABC, AT&T, and many others.

Please forward this information to every creative person and group you know. Mr. Holland and Mr. Simon have given their permission for this audio file to be copied and transferred and replayed.

For additional information about Orphan Works developments, go to the IPA Orphan Works Resource Page for Artists


PCUnfunny said...

I don't have any comment. This speaks for itself.

trophiogrande said...

I wrote both of my senators and congressman yesterday about this, and if they vote for it I won't be voting for them....ever!

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless. So basically what they're doing is abolishing copyright laws, unless you pay to protect everything you make?!?

So you could make a cartoon, take a photo, write a song, and then see them reedited into somebody elses commercial without any sort of permission?!?

I think it's about time an asteroid hits us.

Matt said...

Have a nice rebuttal.

Sounds like it's something to be concerned about, but nothing to lose our heads over, as long as we stay informed.

Rogelio T. said...

It's my understanding that the whole article is pretty much inaccurate.
Here's two blog posts which link to explanations.

From Boing Boing

Anne-arky's blog

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...


Actually everyone, I think I'm responsible for this.

And, to the best of my knowledge, I was wrong.

I don't know if John is reacting to a myspace message I sent him about this two weeks ago or not, but I did, and we even posted it on our blog when we found out about it, but if you read the comments in said post, Rogelio T. points out that we were misinformed.

Read this: Countering the FUD about the "Orphan Works" copyright bill ( that doesn't exist ).

Sorry if I'm wrong and if I spooked Mr. Horse. But if I'm right, then props are due to M.G. Nunnery and

But I think we're okay on this one.

- trevor.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Worth said...

Hi John

Boing Boing did a post on this last week. The writer for AWN didn't know what he was talking about. There is no bill pending and most of the things he talks about are pure speculation.

For the real story about orphan works, see...

Everyone is linking to the BS article on AWN, but no one is talking about the real issue, which is the problem of abandoned copyrights that fall into a legal limbo, making the material unavailable.

See ya

PCUnfunny said...

Stephen: I hope you're right because this is pretty bad news.

Jeff LaMarche said...


There's been a lot of FUD spread about the orphan works act. It does not and will not strip you of anything. Believe me, any act that striped content creators of their IP rights would never pass this current corporate-owned Congress.

In order for a work to be considered orphaned, a diligent search for the author or rights-ower has to be done. This act is intended only to strip copyright protection from those items where the creator or owner (or any successor in interest) cannot reasonably be found. It simply speeds up the process of items going into the public domain when there is nobody who can potentially still profit from them, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

If you get access to the comments, you'll see that most of the people complaining about the Orphan Works Act either did not read it or did not understand it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Yes, I've looked into it.

Again, John, everybody, I was wrong. There's nothing to worry about.

Your art is safe!

- trevor.

JonnyPlank said...

Oh please, not this again. First Deviant Art explodes about this for a week, and now the professional artists blow their tops. This bill isn't going anywhere, because it's bad news for everyone but schlock salesmen. And nobody likes them.

Alex Whitington said...


That's not going to happen.

Mr. Semaj said...

Wouldn't any such bill that discourages art, regardless of what venue be deemed unconstitutional?

Will Finn said...

What an obscene farce the 21st century is turning out to be... Here's a case where a couple of billionaires will profit by leveraging a monopoly using utopian socialist philosophy as their fulcrum. If this goes through they might as well change the name to "copy privilege" instead of 'copyright,' since an actual copyright as we've always understood it will only be accessIble to an elite, privileged class. That's classic Marxism for you....

Thanks for bringing this to our attention John.

Pseudonym said...

While it's true that there is no "orphan works bill", and there's nothing to worry about right now, it's also true that orphan works are a serious problem.

Under current law, even preservation efforts are being hampered. In the case of some movies, the very celluloid is deteriorating to the point where there will be nothing left in a very short about of time if it's not digitised or otherwise copied.

There needs to be some way to allow copying and limited redistribution for preservation, archive, research, commentary and miscellaneous non-commercial uses where a copyright holder can't be found.

I do agree, however, that the "orphan works" problem is a special problem for illustrators because it wasn't until fairly recently in history that illustrators were credited in publications, which makes it that much harder to track down copyright holders.

Consider, however, that the alternative is that some works of art will become permanently lost to the world. A misuse of a copyrighted work is unfortunate, but it can be remedied. The permanent loss of a copyrighted work is something that can't be repaired.

Either way, it's a problem with no perfect solution.

Paton said...

I'm an animator working in Halifax, Nova Scotia. What, if anything, can we do in Canada to help block this? Do you know of any organization that we can or should contact? Thanks.

Kris said...


This is not as big an issue as everyone's making it out to be. The law is still being reworded, but as it stands, a person who wants to use a copyrighted work needs to make a reasonably diligent search for the original artist and document it. If the artist resurfaces later, and the person used the work believing it orphaned, the artist can claim a limited penalty against the infringer.

The only right lost to the artist here is the right to make a ridiculously huge claim against the infringer. You must instead make a smaller claim.

The copyright to your work will NOT be stolen, nor will your work become public domain, if someone thinks it's orphaned.

Bitter Animator said...

I'm so confused. If this thing doesn't exist, what has that AWN guy's panties in a bunch? He seems pretty adamant about it.

Yamavu said...

This is a horrifying imagination. I don't want to imagine how this would affect an European artist, who releases his/her works on a US server.

This is the cheapest workaround on copyright since 1998, especially when the orphaned work is to be used freely by any person or corp. I only imagine ONE good reason for this act: Preservation of Digital Media. Trying to force artists to submit their works to a central repository seems the only way to make sure the works don't get lost in time, at least this is quite practical. It makes much sense to wish for a central repository and a default way to ask for reuse permission, but it won't work that way.

There are rules (at least in most parts of Europe): 70 years after the death of the author OR 70 years after release (if author unknown) OR 70 years after creation (if author unknown and not released to public). I also think this can be a pretty long time, but anything else would be too prone for abuse.

In short: I think this act will cause many more problems than it will solve, especially on an international level.

After reading this I just hope this stays a concept and that there's a better way.

Paulrus said...

It's total and utter BS that has been debunked for weeks. I can't believe this urban myth is still going around.

Seriously people. The guy at AWN was TOTALLY WRONG and has admitted it.

Other articles have been posted that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a waste of your time to worry about. It's not real. It's not going to happen.

Teemu said...

According to all the info at Illustrators' Partnership's site, the law is very much in the works and a real threat:

"Today the House and Senate sent us draft copies of the new Orphan Works Act of 2008. They haven’t officially released it yet, but we’ve been told the Senate will do so this week. A quick analysis confirms our worst fears and our early warnings. If these proposals are enacted into law, all the work you have ever done or will do could be orphaned and exposed to commercial infringement from the moment you create it."
- from New Orphan Works Act Due Out This Week on 22nd April 2008.

They also bunk the rebuttal as wrong on another article.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gabriele_Gabba said...

I heard about this a couple of weeks ago, its really terrible! I can't imagine what this'll do to all my work on the net 0_0 I think this is a job for The Ripping Friends :D

ChrisL said...

Frankly, it pisses me off when valuable and interesting work is lost to time because no one can turn a profit by keeping it in print. (For example a large majority of gospel made between the 30's and 70's are LOST because theres more money in utilizing pre-30's gospel recordings that are now in public domain.)

Now, I don't think this bill has anything to do with taking food from working illustrators mouths, but I'd have to do more reading about it. Lets not chicken little this one, mmkay?

cemenTIMental said...

Knew this would turn out to be a total urban myth. Runs counter to the reality of increasingly draconian copyright laws. Last thing they are going to do is to change the laws to make it EASIER for people to use copyrighted material!!!

But of course a world of egotistical deviantart kids paranoid about someone "stealing" their dumb ideas and terrible drawings are lapping it up.

Hope you'll edit this post with a retraction John, shouldn't let bad info get out there and confuse important issues like copyright.

The Flea said...


This is absolutely preposterous!

Thanks for the link, John.

Gavin Freitas said...

I hope this is just a hoax, I have been hearing this at school. As artist we should just keep our ears and eyes open. I'm sure congress will try to find a way to screw over artist somehow in the future...

Lee said...

Tom Richmond has a detailed post critiquing the rebuttal Matt cited at

Thanks John, for raising awareness!