The proposed Orphaned Works legislation before the US Congress to change copyright laws is attracting increased condemnation from a cross section of the American artist’s community the Graphic Artists Guild to the Professional Photographers of America via the Stock Artists Alliance.
The elephant in the room is the removal of statutory damages which under the current rules is the main thing that keeps the bastards honest. Take the possibility of being sued into the middle of next week off the table and it becomes open season on art works, especially those on the internet.
I mean, how hard would it be not to find something on the www?
It is also of concern for artists outside of the USA. As Stanford Law professor, Lawrence Lessig says in the New York Times “Likewise, the change is unfair to foreign copyright holders, who have little notice of arcane changes in Copyright Office procedures, and who will now find their copyrights vulnerable to willful infringement by Americans.”
And the winner is? The proposed private registries with which artists will have to register their works to ensure they don’t become orphaned. No wonder Corbis and Getty have reportedly been spending serious money on Washington lobbyists to get this legislation through ASAP.