Thursday, February 26, 2009

Artists Aware - CRTC New Media Hearings and the Orphan Works Bill

Comic creators of all stripes and sizes should be aware of two things that are happening right now.

The current CRTC hearings over New Media are looking into whether the internet can be considered broadcasting and therefore falls under their jurisdiction. I think this is important for all artists, but especially those who deliver their content over the net, as more and more of are doing. For those of you raising the old "keep the net free" battle cry, I direct you to this delightful post by Denis McGrath, one of Canada's busier Television writers. It sums up why this should matter to you and encourages you to step back and examine the big picture.

The other thing all artists should be aware is the Orphan Works Bill in the United States. what began as a way to free up old works of art for use by libraries and historians has become a huge cash grab designed to remove, in essence, your rights to copyright on your own work.

The full interview can be heard here.

I wrote about this and related concerns at my televison writer's blog, But you can get more direct info here, and here at, which sums up the potential money grab in this way.

The really huge crux of this, is not that they bill seeks to ‘PRESERVE’ or allow use for the libraries…at least not in the larger picture. This is only about making money from searches, the sale of Orphans, and the registration of images. They are killing the goose that laid the golden eggs…many artist will be searching other means to support themselves if it becomes impossible to protect their artwork from theft and the small artists will be the most likely target of infringers.

Do an internet search for GOOGLE,YAHOO, PICSCOUT + orphan works bill. How did they wind up giving testimony?
Microsoft (who was courting Yahoo) - who incidently owns (image selling sites)-
and they (microsoft) are already working with Pic Scout (who was mentioned to me by my reps aide yesterday as a potential ‘REGISTRY OWNER’)
( MICROSOFT hired Jule Sigall who was the man that wrote the ORPHAN WORKS REPORT while he worked for the COPYRIGHT OFFICE.
( (Tech Law Journal’s owner Mr.Carney wrote, “The primary author of the report, Jule Sigall, subsequently went to work for Microsoft. See, story titled “Jule Sigall Joins Microsoft” in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,510, December 27, 2006.”)

the reason everyone is fighting over the images are the millions/billions in ad sales resulting from the online searches…Google is the current leader and is now courting Yahoo themselves. Besides the millions or billions of dollars that would be generated from the ad sales, these giants will also make additional money off registration and searches as well. “Companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other people’s content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue and IPOs. Google takes the position that everything may be freely copied unless the copyright owner notifies Google and tells it to stop. ” That sounds familar…. & ( )

Google is hooked up with Getty (images sales again) and AOL (Shawn Bentley went from the US gov. to work for time warner - owner of AOL - as VP of IP and Global Public Policy after he worked in the senate and “helped write are among the most important laws in the intellectual property world: the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the American Inventors Protection Act, the Patent Fee Integrity and Innovation Protection Act, the Anti-Counterfeiting Consumer Protection Act, and the Trademark Dilution Act, just to name a few.”

Then there’s apple fixing to jump into the mix?(

Also, any artist that uploads any amount of art onto free sites better be taking a really good look at their policies and finding out what they are up to. Artwanted’s policies already state your art goes right onto Google and WITHOUT CREDITS/COPYRIGHT INFO.

This bill will put many small artists out of business - we fight infringement daily NOW with the current laws. Removal of the penalties currently in place will open all artists up to constant infringement. Who has the time to spend hunting for infringed work on a constant basis? Oh, but don’t worry, because now, for a fee there are IMAGE SEARCHING sites springing up offering to let you find infringed copies/potential orphans - for a fee.

So there's a lot of money at stake. And some it belongs to you.

Spread the word to your Member of Parliament and ask all your US artist friends to go to this website to find out what they can do.

Beavers up!

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