I received a letter this morning and I had to pass the information on to you. The U.S. Copyright Office has issued a special call for letters. If you are involved in the art or creative communities, on any level, this information could impact you. We work so hard to find our creative voices, to be brave enough to share what we create. Previous legislation has protected our rights and ownership of these creations… lets work to keep it that way.
If you have ever created (or are creating) any kind of visual art:
illustration, graphic design, photography… this could affect you!
Copyright Office plans to draft a new Copyright Act
which would change the copyright protection we have enjoyed since 1976, and make it difficult to protect our art and intellectual property. They have asked for input from the visual arts community and LETTERS ARE DUE BY THURSDAY, JULY 23rd! I ask that you take a moment to submit your own letter and help spread the word.
This information has been reposted from the Art Licensing Show blog.
CALL TO ACTION:
The U.S. Copyright Office has issued a special call for letters regarding the role of visual art in the coming legislation.
At this point, there is no bill before congress • our job is to make sure that when a bill is written, the needs of the visual arts community will be taken into consideration. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional artist, crafter, hobbyist, student, manufacturer, art licensor— or not involved in the arts— copyright impacts us all.
This is a time-critical matter; LETTERS ARE DUE BY JULY 23rd!!!
PLEASE WRITE AND SEND YOURS TODAY!
Submit your letters online at:
Since 2014, Congress has been holding hearings to gather information before drafting a totally new U.S. Copyright Act, which would replace the Copyright Act of 1976. Last month they filed the Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report, which makes it clear that the legislation they plan to propose [you may read their 234 page PDF here: https://copyright.gov/orphan/reports/orphan-works2015.pdf ] will reverse the ‘copyright exists upon creation’ premise, and instead require artists to pay a fee to register every design they want to protect. It would also allow infringers to create and register derivative works, which would in turn make it even more difficult for artists to monetize their creations because they would not necessarily be able to guarantee their licensees exclusive use of a design.
- Under current copyright law it is not necessary to sign, date or even put a © symbol on a work; ergo millions of designs created since 1976 do not have attributions attached, making it difficult to identify the creators
- The Internet poses an increased risk for art without appropriate credit to be shared, making it imperative for the Copyright Office to continue to recognize the ownership of these works.
- Many artists are extremely prolific, creating thousands of images each year. It would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to force them to register every design created in order to protect it (including past, present and future works).
Submit your letters online at: https://copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/comment-form/
Why It Matters:
Every one of these points above could impact your work. Whether you are a blogger creating your own site graphics or you are a world famous artist, this legislation could affect how your art is protected. If you just love art others create, you could share a letter too. Without proper copyright protection, sharing our work with the public could be damaging to an artist’s business… I wouldn’t share my work on my blog or social channels if it meant that my work would then be exposed for anyone to take and use how they wanted… regardless of my creation. Every one of these points above will directly affect my work. How about yours?
I’ve made a living for myself with my creative skills and talents for almost 2 decades. My work is my livelihood, so having the opportunity to retain the ownership of my work is very important to me. Over the years I have had to fight to keep ownership of pieces I have created. I appreciate the copyright laws and the protection they provide. If I had to file every tiny little piece of art that I create, before I could share with it the world.. or risk losing my ownership… my blog would be bare, my social channels would be empty and the only people that would see my work are those that hire me to produce it. I share what I create with the world with the goal to inspire others to be brave, find their creative voice and make something with their own abilities. How do we inspire others if we are worried about who is taking what we create?
Please send a letter!
If you aren’t sure what to say, here are some suggestions from Brad Holland of the Illustrator’s Partnership:
In your letter to the Copyright OffIce:
It’s important that lawmakers be told that our copyrights are our source of income because lobbyists and corporation lawyers have “testified” that once our work has been published it has virtually no further commercial value and should therefore be available for use by the public.
So when writing, please remember:
- – It’s important that you make your letter personal and truthful.
- – Keep it professional and respectful.
- – Explain that you’re an artist and have been one for x number of years.
- – Briefly list your educational background, publications, awards etc.
- – Indicate the field(s) you work in.
- – Explain clearly and forcefully that for you, copyright law is not an abstract legal issue, but the basis on which your business rests.
- – Our copyrights are the products we license.
- – This means that infringing our work is no different than stealing our money.
- – It’s important to our businesses that we remain able to determine voluntarily how and by whom our work is used.
- – Stress that your work does NOT lose its value upon publication.
- – Instead, everything you create becomes part of your business inventory.
- – In the digital era, inventory is more valuable to artists than ever before.
If you are NOT a professional artist:
- – Define your specific interest in copyright, and give a few relevant details.
- – You might want to stress that it’s important to you that you determine how and by whom your work is used.
- – You might wish to state that even if you are a hobbyist, you would not welcome someone else monetizing your work for their own profit without your knowledge or consent.
The U.S. Copyright Office acknowledges that visual artists face special problems in the marketplace and they’ve asked artists to respond to five questions. If you are a professional artist, please consider incorporating answers to these questions in your letter:
- What are the most significant challenges related to monetizing and/or licensing photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations?
- What are the most significant enforcement challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?
- What are the most significant registration challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?
- What are the most significant challenges or frustrations for those who wish to make legal use of photographs, graphic art works, and/or illustrations?
- What other issues or challenges should the Office be aware of regarding photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations under the Copyright Act?
Here are links to sample letters:
- Illustrator’s Partnership Part 2 (Submission Info, Questions to Address and Sample letters)
- “Orphan Works – Sample letter to Copyright office” by artist Annie Troe
The copyrights to your photos, artwork, and other tangible creative expressions are VALUABLE and enable you to determine how and where your work is used; which companies to work with, and what products you want your designs to be on. The U.S. Copyright Office needs to take the needs of visual artists and the Art Licensing community into consideration when drafting this new legislation. Please take the time to protect your future: write today, and share this to encourage others to write as well.
For more details and the original article shared with me, please visit the Art of Licensing Blog’s CALL TO ACTION
Please ask every creative professional or visual artist you know to get involved, write a letter and spread the word. We were able to defeat this legislation in two different sessions of congress because there were enough people who were motivated to DO something… together we can make a difference. Every voice matters… please make sure yours is heard!
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer – I am passionate about the creative community and wanted to share what I’ve learned with my fellow creatives. PLEASE consult your attorney for a specific interpretation of this proposed copyright change and to find out what it would specifically mean to your business. Nothing contained herein or linked to should be interpreted as legal advice.