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CHA MEMBERSHIP CALL TO ACTION
CHA's May 30th blast email to members.
by CHA Staff (June 2, 2008)
In April of 2008 a Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill
known as the Orphan Works Act. Orphan Works are works whose rightful
copyright owner cannot be identified. The Orphan Works Act of 2008
does the following:
1. It changes the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act, and makes it
virtually impossible for artists to protect their work. It allows
anyone to use a design without the copyright holder's permission.
2. It requires artists to attempt to protect their work by
registering it with a digital database system (presumably for a fee,
in addition to the copyright filing fee) when no such system
3. It eliminates statutory damages wherever an infringer
can successfully claim an Orphan Works defense, thus eliminating the
only tool the law provides to prevent deliberate infringement.
4. It allows for an infringer to create and copyright a
derivative work from the original design.
5. It leaves infringing works (and products incorporating
them) subject to seizure in other countries.
Since the legislation was introduced, the Craft & Hobby
Association, along with the Graphic Artists Guild and George Little
Management, hired lobbyist Megan Gray to work on their behalf. She
has spent an inordinate amount of time writing to diverse industry
associations in the plethora of visual art enterprises to alert them
to the legislation and to invite them to help fund this expensive
lobbying endeavor. She has also held in-person meetings with the
Copyright Office multiple times, with Senate offices on the key
Judiciary Committee, House of Representative offices on the key
Judiciary Committee, and with more than 10 additional Hill offices
that will play important roles as the legislation moves through to
enactment. In addition, Ms. Gray has met with Senators, has
scheduled meetings with Representatives, has met with stakeholders
on all sides of this issue, compiled state-specific handouts on the
importance of the visual arts industries, visited trade shows,
published articles, given presentations, and worked with bar
associations to draft appropriate resolutions regarding "orphan
The Orphan Works Act will have a devastating effect on the craft
and hobby industry, especially artists, manufacturers and the entire
art licensing community. This bill will nullify exclusive rights to
artwork, which will be detrimental for everyone involved in creating
art and manufacturing products featuring art. The bill does not even
contain a "notice of use" provision, which means that
copyright owners can do nothing to prevent their works from being
commercially exploited as supposed "orphans."
The bill is now on its way to the Senate floor for a vote by the
full Senate. CHA urges its members to take action! Write to your
senators, asking them to halt all progress on the bill until it is
amended, and ask them to vote against the bill if it is NOT amended
to protect visual artists and to include, at a minimum, a publicly
accessible "notice of use" filing. Letters to senators
should include in the first paragraph information regarding the
writer (especially noting if he is a constituent), the name of the
bill ("The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008" S.
2913), and the writer's position, particularly as to the
"notice of use" provision.
The link below can help you get started. Click on the link for a
sample letter to use. You may also personalize your own letter. Just
by taking a few minutes of your time, a letter will automatically be
emailed to the U.S. Senate. We recommend you also print out the
letter and mail it.
Take action by [copying this url and pasting it into your
In addition, as of mid-May 2008, the House Subcommittee on
Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet has approved an
"orphan works" bill that is an improvement over past bills
and which contains a "notice of use" provision. However,
this "notice of use" is not publicly accessible for review
by copyright owners. Even in its hidden role, many stakeholders are
fighting to strip this provision to the bill. The visual art groups
are, of course, fighting to keep it in and to make it an open
archive. The next step in the process is unclear, as the bill's
sponsors have indicated that they will be working to address a
variety of provisions. At some future point, it is expected that the
bill will be presented to the House Committee on the Judiciary for a
vote, perhaps in amended form. Once it is more apparent what the
Judiciary Committee will be presented with, the Craft & Hobby
Association will alert its members and recommend action as may be
appropriate. In the meantime, Megan Gray will continue her extensive
efforts to influence the legislation.
Thank you for taking the time! Together we can make a difference.
List of Senators and District Office addresses:
Orphan Works Opposition Headquarters: http://www.owoh.org
Questions? Contact Keri Cunningham, Marketing Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 201-835-1229.