A coworker sent news of this to me this morning and I was shocked. Apparently a bill is pending in Congress that would virtually strip all rights to creative works from artists, designers, musicians, you name it. The bill has been referred to as the ‘end of copyright’. Currently and since 1976, in order to be more compatible with international copyright laws, if you have created something you do not have to pay to protect it. It is automatically considered so. Under this new bill apparently, this would change, whereas if you wanted your work legally protected, you would have to pay to do so. If you could not pay or afford to pay, then your work would be up for grabs by (most likely) people with more money than you. Nothing you create would be protected and putting anything online would be placing your work directly in harms way. You would have to pay to own your own work or that work would be deemed an ‘orphan’ and available for use by anyone willing to pay the government the right to license. The scariest part is that this also encompasses anything you release online, which for many of us is our best work because we use the internet to promote ourselves to potential employers and contractors.
The legislation was introduced about 3 years ago and, rightly so, has been difficult to pass. The bill is being reviewed today and could pass very soon. My question is how do bills like this even get introduced into legislation when they fly in the face of working Americans? How broken is our system?
Here are several links where you can read more about this bill:
Senator Leahy’s full text release of the bill here
Wikipedia’s Orphan Works entry here
Advertising Photographers of America’s page fighting the bill here
General information about the bill and it’s repercussions here
Lastly and most importantly, you can take action here