Neighbours, don't make Art into Orphans, eh?

Artwork in the land of my southern neighbours is in danger from the Orphan Works legislation. I'm not in the habit of asking members of another country to vote certain ways, but I'm concerned. I'll certainly give some neighbourly advice and point at something.

The legislation would provide the onus to be on the artists' to prove their work is not an "orphan" piece of art by registering everything. If a large ad firm or company used a piece of art without permission and made millions from the ad campaign, the artist would have to realise, and sue. If the company can be said to have "reasonably" searched for the original copyright holder and is not found guilty of infringing on copyright and merely using an "orphan work" than they would be granted permission. The problem is, the little guy or freelancer or up-and-coming-feisty studio would have a tough time defending every time their work was infringed.

I don't have all the answers, but time is running short. Educate yourself if you are concerned. If you are an artist reading this blog, or just someone who appreciates art, you may want to do some research and possibly sign this petition.

I'd like to quote Britt Griswold, one of the professionals I've learned a lot from in online forums (be sure to check out his Sci-Art Gallery!):

Dear Artists,
The Orphaned Works battle is on. The Illustrators Partnership of America, American Society of Illustrators Partnership, Advertising Photographers, and others, have set up an effective way to inform you on what these bills will do and give you the tools to write and contact you legislators. If you wish to protect your artistic work from theft and future legal costs, it is incumbent on you to speak out now.

1. Go to this site:

2. Read the synopsis of the legislation at the bottom of the page; house bill first.

3. Read all the variations of the letters you can send (if you can stand it). They will give you a better understanding of how to address the issues.

4. Get mad

5. You can send one of the pre-written letters by email, but this will be less effective than a customized letter that shows you know and really care about this issue. To customize a response, copy and paste the bits of the various letter that address the way you feel.

6. Compose them into a personalized version in a word processor.

7. Either paste the appropriate wording back into one of the customized letter forms provided, or get the fax numbers of your representatives and fax a full letter to them for maximum impact.

8. Do it now.Go here to find your house representative.
write them a letter.
Go here to find your Senator contact numbers: is a senator finder at the top of the page.)

Go to this website to find a link for an email or mailing address contact for House Judiciary Committee members.
Find one that is in or near your State. Write them.

Go to this address for members of the Intellectual Property subcommittee.
Find one that is in or near your State. Write them.
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If you read The Flying Trilobite because you love science-inspired artwork, head over to the Science-Art Galleries, and consider a donation after looking at the wonders of the planet recorded by these most talented and informative hominids. (Hat-tip to all the hard-working scientific illustrators trying to stop this legislation. )
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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.