18 July 2015

US Copyright Act Could Dissolve Our Livelihood - Here's Why

"We are trying to get as many artists as are interested in preserving the rights to their own futures, and their own ability to make a living, to write letters to the copyright office." -Brad Holland

There is so much information to cite to get into all of it, but I want to quote important sections from Brad Holland and write up a breakdown of what is happening for anyone who wants to better understand the picture we artists are looking at, impending this week.

{All quotes of Brad Holland, from the video interview link - Watch the interview HERE}


Following the links, there are forms that you can fill out, and submit to the Copyright Office.
For U.S. artists writing in, go HERE.

For International artists writing in, EMAIL your letters of concern HERE:

Catherine Rowland
Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office


For a third time now, Congress is trying to draft a new US Copyright Act, and it will affect all of us one way or another.

     "It is important that artists begin to write letters to the copyright office simply to show that we are concerned about copyright and that we need to find a place for ourselves in this new digital marketplace".

The Mass Digitization motivating lawyers to write this bill completely excludes any sufficient research into how Copyright law is an imperative asset to artists' livelihood.

Brad Holland goes on to explain the proponents' view on our rights:

     "In a nutshell, our work is too important for us [artists] to keep. They're making the argument that our work is so valuable to the culture that everybody has to have access to it."

Holland gives an example using himself:  

     "Let me put this simply. I would estimate, 'cause I've been doing work now for major magazines since 1967, for me to register everything I've ever done would cost me at least a quarter of a million dollars, take me ten years to comply with this law. There's no way I would do it. Not only that, but I would effectively become the unpaid employee of the registries, because I would have to devote my own time and my own money, to giving them my work, along with a list of all my clients and the contact information for all my clients. Well, think about this; once they have your work, and your clients, why do they need you?"

What's more, they would be able to make what's called 'derivative work' from your work, which, according to this new copyright law, would only require them to alter your work slightly - changing the saturation, the cropping, the compositional vertical or horizontal alignment - to claim it as their own, and therefore make further profit off of its use, with you, the originator of the work, never seeing a penny.

"There is no other word for this. This is a proposal to legalize the theft of private property." 

By our own government!

If the proposals go through, say goodbye to the copyright law as we have known it since 1978, which says anything you produce is yours, inherently, for your life, plus 50 (since the last 20 years, +70) years, baring certain fair use exceptions.

The opponents of the current system, the people who want this new copyright law in place, argue that because any formalities, such as registration, have not been required heretofore, people cannot find copyright owners (artists). They argue their new system, which requires everything any artist has ever done or will do to be registered, will solve this problem.

Holland explains why it is so important for artists to actively get involved now:

     "Now this system, this unfair, this unjust system, this 'not-include artists' system that has been going on, has been going on for twenty years, so what we're fearful of is that it is also become what a famous anti-trust lawyer once called 'settled expectations in the marketplace', which means that the marketplace has become accustomed to this [system] and it's too late for artists to claim their own rights. That's why it's important that we [artists] begin to write and do something about it.

     "We need to literally explain to the Copyright Office how this is going to affect our business. The people who write these bills are lawyers, they have never examined our business, they don't know a thing about it. The theory for this law...came from one law professor at the George Washington Law School at American University...His entire research into the bill, according to their own written document to the Copyright Office, was a one day seminar held back in 2003, attended by the very people who want this legislation. After that the blueprint for the bill was written by eight law students who attended that one day seminar. And from that they claim that they know enough about our business to write our business plans for us".

In 2008 the artists in opposition to the attempt at passing this same bill to change copyright law wrote in 165,000 letters, and consequently it was not passed.

Now we need to do it again, for a third time. And we need to write more.

You can write up your letter entirely online at the links below. It can be a short, concise letter, or a long one, but what we need to explain is that the copyright law as it currently stands is imperative to our business structure, to our work, to our future survival.

More Information - Artists Alert: The Illustrator's Partnership HERE

Again - For U.S. artists, write and submit your letters HERE

             For non-U.S. artists writing in, submit your concerns to:

Catherine Rowland
Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office 


Watch, or listen to, Brad Holland's interview HERE

View Sample Letters submitted, and other important information on submitting letter content, HERE


Please share any and all links or relevant information to fellow artists, students, art instructors, or supporters concerned. If you consider yourself an artist, or an appreciator of the visual arts, this should matter to you.

Let's unite, and stop this act for the third time!


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