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03 May 2008 @ 09:25 am
I've been pondering the Orphaned Work Bills some more...  
The 2008 Orphaned Works Bills are creating a battle that wages on all over the internet, an excellent sample of this can be found here: http://mollykleinman.com/2008/04/16/wonks-and-librarians/

To amuse myself I've been researching the Orphaned Works legislation everyone is wetting their pants over, people are drafting letters and poised, ready to fight. I personally decided to take a different route, I went looking for where it might have come from, looking for who might have pushed for it, and who might be owed favors that might help get it over the hump before I write any letters. This is probably the most important thing I learned while battling politicians down in Coos Bay Oregon, "follow the money". It's a good lesson to learn. Anyway I ran into some interesting data while looking into contributions made to the politicians involved in the senate bill, don't you just love the internet?

The details on just one of the politicians involved follows:
First of all the senate version is also called "The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 (S. 2913) It was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and lists Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) as a backer, I find this odd because Hatch appears to have drafted this originally. It's named after Shawn Bentley, who was an intellectual property counselor for Hatch for several years before he died from cancer.
Interestingly enough he also worked for years for AOL/Time Warner... who happens to be a major contributor to other people heavily involved in both versions.... $41,100 to Leahy alone, they might very well be interested in this passing, but they were not the biggest contributor.
Other major contributors include a litigation attorney who defends naughty people who seem to infringe on patents and copyrights, sizable donations also came from Disney, and then there is "TechNet", an interesting little group of tech moguls, who do a lot of big money lobbying for "causes" that tend to make their members lots of money.... on the record, $81,491 went from Technet to Leahy alone last year, (John Doerr is at the top of the Technet heap, he is the money guy behind Google), that's a lot of freaking gerbil food in my book. I find it interesting that Technet members are already profiting nicely from registries for health care, real estate and financial information, so IMHO they would be crazy to not be interested in making a bundle by creating an art registry. Technet is also endorsing a move to lower patent violation penalties by Leahy and Hatch... info on that here: http://tinyurl.com/6gmgqq. Now, if you read the OW legislation, both versions seek to lower and limit fines on copyright violations...in fact they read quit a bit like Technet's outline of the need to limit patent infringement lawsuits " for the good of humanity" of course. Ahem.... can I prove their donations to Leahy or Hatch are to encourage a push to get the Orphaned Works through and make money as a result? No, but it looks suspicious on a major scale to me.
I feel some deja-vu coming on.... and I suspect people are gonna need to do more than write letters to stop this, in fact I doubt it can be stopped. I haven't finished digging but there appears to be some major money going to the politicians behind making these bills resurface, and some major players have to be involved, it could be Technet, or someone else who doesn't matter, not really. I doubt whoever it is, that they are use to investing large amounts of money and getting nothing in return. Maybe artists better start taking down their art and locking it up now.

I do have to say I haven't had this much fun since I tracked down the skinny on one particularly powerful Environmental Impact Study company in the mid-90's that was up to their elbows in obtaining way too much Federal grant money for performing environmental impact studies (prior to public works projects that seldom actually ever occurred) in financially depressed areas, especially along the west coast. I also found a link from them to suddenly appearing HIGH interest home loans in those areas that were defaulted on at a very high percentage rate, leaving them in control of large amounts of property, some of which they sold off at a loss to local small town politicians, some they kept... the value of all of it rose dramatically within a very short period of time after they got control of it. No one cared then and I doubt they do now, so I imagine that is still going on. I haven't seen anyone mention potential lobbyists for these bills yet so maybe no one but me cares about that either.

BTW, It's impossible to ignore the fact that Technet CEO John Doerr sits on the board of Amazon, Google, Intuit (quickbooks), and the investment company he is a partner in is the primary funding behind Zazzle, (sorta like cafepress). I also discovered that additional donations were also made separately from those by Technet to many of the politicians involved, in the name of John, his wife Ann, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers ( the venture capital group where John is a partner)... and under the name of everyone I have tracked so far that sits in power at Technet. The contribution numbers coming from this general direction will soar much higher than it appears on the surface..... Leahy may never need to buy gerbil food again.

It is always about following the moola, either where it's going to wind up, or who it's being taken from who has friends in the highest places, or who wants to make more. I'm just a nobody, finding this took info me a little over an hour, if I had the time and the desire to create a spread sheet and to cross reference contributions, names and connections the picture would get much scarier and clearer...and it might even lead in further reaching directions, but it is definitely food for thought and something to keep an eye on.

I am sure my daughter Ramie would admire the fact that John and his wife have shoveled a ton of money into backing stem cell research and lobbying for it. That is going to make someone a lot of money some day too.

Anyway I need to get some stuff done here at home.... more on yesterday after I accomplish something productive on the home front.
Hyperactive Superior Anterior Temporal Gyrusmadscience on May 3rd, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
I've yet to see the actual text of the bill, but I do believe this kind of legislation is desperately needed. Copyright law has gotten stupid. Want to copy a studio portrait of your grandmother? Sorry, that's illegal until 100 years after the photographer died and/or the studio went out of business. Can't locate the studio? Too fucking bad, still illegal. Or say there's this computer game from 1989 that you and your friends loved. Nobody sells it anymore, the publisher is out of business, but you can download it from a warez site. Oops, that's illegal! Here come the Kopyright Kops!

I've seen a lot of artists crying and spreading misinformation about what an "orphaned works" bill would do. Again, I haven't seen the text of this particular bill... but if it's like others that have been proposed, I don't think it would change anything for any living artist. If you don't put a copyright notice on your work, somebody might use it because they're unable to locate or identify you. But the minute you become aware of the violation, you'd have exactly the same rights you do now.
.wolfsilveroak on May 3rd, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
Hyperactive Superior Anterior Temporal Gyrusmadscience on May 3rd, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
Wait... that's the full text? I'm guessing not, since the quoted parts of both bills start with "Section 3." If there's anything evil in those bills, you didn't quote it.

First of all, these sections do nothing to alleviate the current problems with orphaned copyrights. Second, they do absolutely nothing that any copyright holder should worry about. If anything, they will give more protection to your works, since the database will give anyone who might want to create a derivative work the means to identify and contact you. I don't see anything that changes your current rights as a copyright holder or makes submitting your work to this database a requirement for your existing protections.

I remain skeptical. I think all the protest against these bills is a knee-jerk reaction by artists who don't have the first damn clue about existing copyright law.
dejabludejablu503 on May 3rd, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
I could really care less about the bills, and I agree there is some knee jerking going on, besides that, if they have been gathering commited votes the last 2 years, ( and I suspect they have been), then it's a done deal good or bad, letters are not going to do much. I did find this interesting debate worth reading, and I added a link to my original post:

My opinion, I am more interested in the money, even if well intentioned, this thing is fast tracking because someone is pushing it. I want to know who and how they benefit. It is truly is leaning towards Technet... they are also "endorsing" Leahy and Hatch pushing similar legislation creating limits on patent infringement lawsuits. Them being behind changing copyright laws too would make sense. I do not buy the idea their intentions are pure. Doerr is not known for throwing large sums of money at anything that won't make him money and lots of it
.: Serra Avatarwolfsilveroak on May 3rd, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
You missed the links. Either that, or can't be bothered to go to http://www.thomas.gov and type the bill numbers into the Search box.



I remain skeptical. I think all the protest against these bills is a knee-jerk reaction by artists who don't have the first damn clue about existing copyright law.

What these bills will do is make things such as Creative Commons obselete. Why? Because we will be REQUIRED to register our works with these 'databases', REQUIRED to have an actual Copytright with the CopyRight Office , or risk big wig companies like AOL/TimeWarner, etc, coming in, declaring our works as Orphaned because, gee, we're not registered, so the artist can't be found, and it will fly with the Courts.

I don't know about you, but I cannot afford to go hunt down and prosecute each and every person who decides my work needs to be infringed upon or outright stolen.

If anything, they will give more protection to your works, since the database will give anyone who might want to create a derivative work the means to identify and contact you.

Only if you are registered or your works have been registered in the first place.

These bills also want to lower the penelaties for copyriht infringers, making it more lucrative for them to steal from us and less lucrative for us to go after them. Especially when it's companies such as AOL, TimeWarner, Disney, etc.

I personally have read the entire Title 17 copyright Act. Hel, I have it bookmarked and can pull it up in seconds if needed.

Hyperactive Superior Anterior Temporal Gyrusmadscience on May 3rd, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
OK, I read the entire text of S.2913. I still say you're blowing it way out of proportion.

1. For the umpteenth time, there is NO REQUIREMENT to register your works in the database!!! The entire section about creating derivatives of "found" works and limiting damages after a diligent effort to identify the copyright holder applies ONLY to works that have no identifying copyright mark. Removing a copyright mark is still the same crime it's always been, and not putting a copyright mark on your work is still stupid. Nothing would change with regard to other people stealing your work and registering it as their own. They can already do that.

2. Unless a work does not have a copyright mark AND the infringer has applied due diligence in attempting to identify the copyright owner, there is NO REDUCTION IN PENALTIES for infringement. This is explicit: "If an infringer fails to comply with any requirement under this subsection, the infringer is subject to all the remedies provided in section 502 through 505, subject to section 412."

3. The limitations on injunctive relief also apply only to infringement that involves unattributed works for which the infringer has met all the requirements for attempting to identify the copyright owner.

In short... if the bill passes as written, there's nothing to worry about. Stop freaking out over nothing.
(Anonymous) on May 12th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
reply to madscience removing copyright
Ok, read all your stuff,

But if i give an image to a client. with copyright on it, they copy it pass it to the retoucher
He copies it retouches it copies it again passes it back to the client, who in turn
passes it on to the web design company, the printer the magazine and 10 no 100 other magazines world wide, then years down the line after the clients gone bust the images are everywhere without knowing who owns it, Then
its used in a 48sheet advertising campaign for hugo boss. The original photographer then sees it in time square as big as an office block.
Now tell me ORPHAN WORKS BILL IS OK!!!!!
sorry mate but you aint on my planet
Hyperactive Superior Anterior Temporal Gyrusmadscience on May 13th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Re: reply to madscience removing copyright
Your fears are hysterical and completely unfounded. The scenario you described is currently illegal at every step, and the Orphan Works bill would not change a thing in that regard. As long as you (or your heirs) are alive and asserting your copyrights, the Orphan Works bill, as currently written, would have absolutely no effect on you whatsoever. Why is that so hard to understand?
.wolfsilveroak on May 3rd, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
You need to post this to the QA list.

dejabludejablu503 on May 3rd, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
I sent it to van and got ignored, I guess he is busy writing letters
.wolfsilveroak on May 3rd, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)

I think I'm going to copy/paste it EVERYWHERE, with your name plastered all over it.}:P
dejabludejablu503 on May 3rd, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Then be sure to add the fact that John Doerr sits on the board of Amazon, Google Intuit, and his company is the primary funding behind Zazzle,(sorta like cafepress). Also discovered that donations were also made to these politicians in the name of John Doerr, his wife Ann, and John's Venture Capital company Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers... and under the name of everyone I have tracked so far that sits in power at Technet.

It is always about following the moola, either where it's going to wind up, or who it's being taken from

I haven't figured the total contributions yet still tracking them.
Doerr is Numero Uno on the Forbes Midas list: