Maria Matthews was a last-minute replacement for David Trust and
spoke on Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday. She's back with a report on what went
down! And boy, it sounds like organizations on every side of the debate are as passionate
as ever! Get caught up and read her latest update at the bottom!
By: Maria Matthews, manager of PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs department
On March 10-11, the debate over "orphan works" will remerge
during the ongoing copyright review process. PPA's CEO David Trust is heading
to Capitol Hill to make sure photographers have a seat at the table.
"Orphan works" are loosely defined as copyright-protected
material where the copyright owner is unknown or cannot be located. The vast
majority of these "orphans" are photographs and other works of visual arts. How
the public can make use of these "orphans" has been debated on Capitol Hill for
almost a decade.
The purpose of the two-day roundtable, hosted by the U.S.
Copyright Office, is to gather insight on potential legislative solutions and
discuss orphan works in the context of new technology and mass digitization
PPA has been involved in the orphan works debate since the
Copyright Office began its initial study of the issue in 2005. Over the years
we have testified before Congress, worked closely with Copyright Office
officials, key Congressional Leaders and their staff to ensure that
photographers concerns were incorporated into any future law.
The closest an orphan works bill came to being enacted was in
2009 when the "Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act" was passed by the Senate. The
bill did not make it out of the House Judiciary Committee, which has
jurisdiction over copyright matters, as it greatly differed from the
legislative language they proposed. Since then there was little activity on
this front until the issue was incorporated into the Register of Copyright's "Priorities and Special
Stay tuned for an update on "orphan works" and related
legislative activity following our return from Capitol Hill!
We've got more details for you!
David Trust will sit on two panels at next week's Orphan Works Roundtable:
1. "The types of works subject to any orphan works legislation, including issues related specifically to photographs."
2. "Remedies and procedures regarding orphan works".
Trust will speak on behalf of professional photographers during a session on the treatment of "orphaned" photographs in any legislative language to be drafted. He will also address remedies and procedures relating to orphan works.
Major stakeholders in the copyright review efforts who represent interests on both side of the orphan works debate will be present at the meeting. Fellow visual arts organizations and pro-copyright scholars from copyright-friendly organizations like the PLUS Coalition and university research centers will speak on behalf of creators. On the opposite side of the table are organizations that represent the interests of potential "orphan works" users, including museums, libraries and internet freedoms groups.
Due to the high demand from prospective participants, panelists were limited to two of nine possible sessions. PPA signed up for nearly all of them, but luckily wound up in two of our highest listed priorities. The Copyright Office will hold an open comment period at the conclusion of the second day to ensure all voices are heard.
That's the latest! We'll provide a recap once we return. As always, PPA's got your back!
plenty to talk about from a busy couple days on Capitol Hill! Here are some
reframing the orphan works debate, the Copyright Office is considering giving
photographs and other works of visual arts special treatment as they make their
recommendations to Congress. This "special treatment" could exclude photographs
from the types of works that can be considered "orphaned." This will help raise
the bar for determining when a photograph is an "orphan."
has the potential to be great news for photographers. We appreciate the
Copyright Office's recognition of the unique nature of photographs and
photographers and agree that exempting photographs from orphan works legislation
makes sense. This could facilitate progress toward meaningful legislation.
new way of thinking stems from the fact that the very technologies that have
helped advance the profession often separate photographers from their images. This
refers specifically to when metadata and watermarks get stripped away (either
intentionally or accidentally) as files are transferred, posted online or
cropped for publication.
photographs are included in orphan works legislation, the language must be thorough
and it cannot make compensation inaccessible, as we outlined in our written
has also been some progress to ensure that copyright owners whose works were
designated "orphan works" are properly compensated when they come forward
following its use. Early versions of orphan works bills included a great deal
of protection for the would-be infringer, preventing the copyright owner from
collecting any form of compensation. But there is now some movement in favor of
language to protect copyright owners as well.
representatives from the user community have expressed interest in incorporating
language that would allow copyright owners to receive reasonable compensation,
set according to market value. Any legislation that does not protect the
legitimate interests of the right holder by ensuring reasonable compensation
for the use of their creative works denies them equal treatment as provided by
fact, any quest for compensation has
to be applied in conjunction with a small claims process that makes it feasible
for copyright owners to assert and defend their rights. Being able to pursue an
infringement outside the federal court system will take into account the burden
and expense of waging a federal lawsuit. This would ultimately prevent a
photographer from collecting even the most modest amount of money.
mass digitization of copyrighted works (like photographs) was also a major
topic of discussion. Two arguments that were repeated throughout both days centered
on a benefit to the "public good" and the need to "satisfy their mission." But if
all creations are inherently free to use there's no incentive for creators to
continue to create!
Of course, as the situation develops, we will keep you all