Good News, Bad News on Orphan Works Act
First the good news: The Copyright Modernization Act (a/k/a Orphan Works Act) appears to be dead for this year. For the third time in as many weeks the bill failed to make it out of mark-up today, and in two days Congress adjourns for this session.
Now the bad news: Lamar Smith seems committed to this awful bill and has promised to bring it back next year.
And a caveat: Congress returns after elections for a "lame-duck" session, so the bill could still be attached to some other unrelated bill and passed into law without discussion. Don't breathe too easily until this Congress is adjourned for good.
Although there's little reason to break out the champagne over this development, the illustration community should take great satisfaction from the knowledge that your unprecedented efforts have brought sufficient scrutiny to this bill to have stalled it so far. Remember that in March, the bill's sponsors warned us that it would be law by now and that any group that opposed it would be "ignored" and "left behind." It hasn't worked out that way.
Because of your efforts and those of our allies, the photographers, textile designers, greeting card manufacturers and others, Orphan Works legislation has now been exposed as a Trojan Horse for those who want to see a radical change in copyright law. We need to stay vigilant and we must expect that when the bill comes back (in whatever form) its sponsors will be prepared for principled opposition. They'll plan their strategy accordingly, and we should be ready to renew our campaign all over again.
In the meantime, thanks to all of you for a united effort. You did a fantastic job. We'll pass along more information when we learn more.
- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner,
for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership
For additional information about Orphan Works developments, go to the IPA Orphan Works Resource Page for Artists.