Industry Orgs Divided Over Orphan Works Legislation

Posted on 7/17/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

This week, the American Society of Media Photographers announced that it expects the next iteration of the House version of the proposed U.S. orphan-works legislation to be released imminently. ASMP has tentatively endorsed the House bill, though it has continued to lobby for additional improvements that would offer greater protection to its photographer members.

While ASMP rejected the Senate version of the same legislation and continues to urge action directed at senators, the organization revealed that a sneak peak at the marked-up version of the House bill offers promise. The ASMP orphan-works blog says that its management is not at liberty to disclose the specifics, but it has received a summary of the anticipated changes and considers them to be generally beneficial to photographers. ASMP is asking its members to refrain from contacting their representatives in the House.

In contrast, several other industry bodies are growing in the vehemence of opposition. The Stock Artists Alliance describes the industry's reaction as "a growing chorus of concern, even outrage." Along with the Advertising Photographers of America, the National Press Photographers Association and Editorial Photographers, the SAA just reaffirmed its opposition to both S2913 and HR5889.

According to the stock-industry advocacy group, these four organizations represent the largest share of U.S. advertising, editorial and stock photographers. While none of the groups oppose legislation that would enable orphaned works to be used for either non-commercial purposes or within the cultural heritage sector, they stress that the proposed bills violate international trade agreements, cause harm to existing commercial markets and limit the rights and protection afforded to artists by current copyright law.

This new wave of opposition is not limited to the United States.

Several prominent international groups, including the U.K. Association of Photographers, France's Union des Photographes Créateurs and the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications also expressed growing concern. The SAA said that over 60 groups, which collectively represent more than 250,000 artists, have endorsed the position of the Illustrators Parnership of America, the most vocal opponent of the legislation.

Over 100,000 artists have used an IPA-developed protest Web site to contact their senators, representatives and Judiciary Committee members. The Web site include special resources and draft letters prepared for the global creative community, whom the IPA and supporting organizations are encouraging to contact U.S. lawmakers and seek amendments.

This international coalition wants to make substantial changes to the orphan-works bill. The 12 amendments, as outlined by the IPA, include limiting the scope of use and qualifying users of orphan works, parity for visual and textile artists, compliance with the Berne Convention and other international agreements, additional best-practice standards, the creation of a freely accessible online database of orphan works and its maintenance by the U.S. Copyright Office, provisions to cover the legal costs of necessary for a plaintiff to litigate an infringement action and numerous other revisions.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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