Before we get into the Friday 20, I've got a question for you: what happens to copyrighted work if someone who wants to use it can't locate the copyright owner to obtain permission for that use?
If this legislation is pushed through, it can be freely used, and the person using it will also enjoy preferential protection against any legal action taken against them by the copyright owner.
What concerns me is the potential this legislation has to affect everyone whose work is protected by copyright law. As it stands right now, it's particularly worrisome for independent photographers and other visual image artists. To quote ASMP's general counsel Victor Perlman: "We are different from all other copyright owners because, unlike other creators, it is the exception rather than the rule that our images are published with any kind of credit line, copyright notice or other form of attribution."
Copyright opponents (aka the folks who want to give it all away for free) are hailing this legislation as a step forward rather than backward, but it helps support their position, so that's a given. As an author I depend on the integrity of copyright law, and I think this legislation is yet another badly-disguised effort to undermine it. I'm going to write to my senators and congressmen tonight and urge them to vote against it. I hope you'll give this some thought and do the same (and my thanks to Kristin for e-mailing me with a heads-up on this.)
The full text of the Copyright Office proposal is in .pdf format here
The U.S. Copyright Office's Report on "Orphaned Works"
Recording artists from the Future of Music Coalition responded with a statement here.
The National Press Photographers Association weighs in with their objections.
To find out who your state representatives are, check out the search engines at the web sites for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
On to the Q&A -- what would you like to talk about this week?