Urgent: Contact Your Representative About Orphan Works!

Announcement from ASMP posted with permission:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 21, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property will hold a closed-door session on H.R. 5889, the orphan works bill. It is crucial that all of the protections for photographers that have been included in the current language of that bill stay in that bill, without change or erosion, and that nothing is added to the language that would be to our detriment.

Time is short, and it is essential that you act, and that you act immediately! We are asking those of our members whose Representatives serve on the Judiciary Committee to contact them immediately. Time is critical, so please send a fax or email as soon as possible. There is a sample letter that appears below that you can copy and paste, being free to edit as you like.

You can find who your Representative is at this website. When you click on his or her name, you will see a list of his or her committee memberships. If you see either “House Committee on the Judiciary” or “Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property” listed, please send the message that appears below. If your Representative does not serve on the Committee or Subcommittee, you need not take any action at this point. We will need your help later, but not right now.

Thank you for all of your support. We know that many of you have been eager to take action on the subject of orphan works legislation, and this is the time!

Todd Joyce
ASMP President


Re: H.R. 5889. the Orphan Works Act of 2008

Dear (Mr./Ms.) __________________:

I am one of your constituents, a professional photographer, [if applicable – and a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)]. I am writing to thank you for including many important protections for professional photographers in the current (May 20, 2008) language of H.R. 5889 and to urge you not to approve any changes to that language that would reduce those protections or in any way, directly or indirectly, be to the detriment of professional photographers. By way of example, the requirement that infringers must file a Notice of Use before using an orphan work and that all such Notices must be maintained in a “dark archive” are critical to protecting our interests under this Bill.

Orphan works legislation is entirely for the benefit of the user community at the expense of the copyright owner community, particularly the creators of visual artworks, such as professional photographers. The current language of the bill contains the bare minimum of what photographers need and can accept, and any reductions in the protections for photographers, direct or indirect, will make the legislation unfair, unreasonable and unacceptable.

The user community must realize that it is getting access to copyrighted works for free, so it is completely appropriate for its members to be required to comply with some administrative requirements. Similarly, the Copyright Office exists to serve both the public and the copyright owners, and it must be willing to comply with any reasonable changes in its procedures that would benefit both groups at reasonable cost.

The current language H.R. 5889 already erodes my rights under the Copyright Act. I urge you to protect my existing rights and not to allow any changes that would be to my further detriment in any way. Thank you for your time, attention and support.

Respectfully yours,
[your name]

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