The following was written by Dena Matthews, fellow medical illustrator:
Dear friends and artists,
I encourage you to support all American artists by voicing opposition to the Orphan Works Acts that are being fast-tracked through Congress. It’s important that you act now – because Congress (both House and Senate) could be voting on this legislation this month.
Here is a brief summary of the problem.
• The Orphan Works Acts, if enacted would change copyright law in such a way that it would be too costly (time and money) to make a living as a visual artist. There would be less of a need for new art because all one’s existing and new work would be open for others to use for free. Today we call those people- who use art without asking- infringers, those who steal art for their own profit.
• The Orphan Works Acts would affect visual artists who do not make a living from their art (create just for the joy of it). Someone, an infringer, would be able to use your art anywhere they like to make a buck and potentially in ways you would object.
• The Orphan Works Acts would also affect anyone who takes snapshot photos and shares them through email or on the web. Your personal family memories could be used by unscrupulous people or in ways you may object - again just to make a buck. The Orphan Works Acts also opens up privacy issues- by allowing others to distribute and sell pictures of your family members and friends.
The Copyright Act of 1976 was created to allow artists to profit from their work thereby encouraging artists to create- a priceless gift that we presently are able to give to the world.
There may be a desire for libraries, museums, etc to acquire truly orphaned works - those in which the author will never be located. Most visual artists would support this cause for the greater good. But these Orphan Works Acts being pushed through congress are written so broadly, they do not take into account the devastating impact they will have on living and available (who can be located) artists.
Please ask your congressmen to vote in opposition to this act- in both house and senate.
Here’s a link to a web tool that allows you to do so effortlessly: http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/home/
Select the letter that best represents you and edit it as you see fit. Then click to submit – and your letter will be sent immediately electronically to all your congressmen.
Please forward and crosspost widely.