A little while back, a commenter below raised the spectre of artists getting ripped off. And three days ago, a DreamWorks artist brought the same issue up. So clearly it's a subject worth exploring:
An Orphaned Work is any creative work of art where the artist or copyright owner has released their copyright, whether on purpose, by passage of time, or by lack of proper registration. In the same way that an orphaned child loses the protection of his or her parents, your creative work can become an orphan for others to use without your permission.
If you don't like to read long articles, you will miss incredibly important information that will affect the rest of your career as an artist. You should at least skip to the end to find the link for a fantastic interview with the Illustrators' Partnership about how you are about to lose ownership of your own artwork.
Currently, you don't have to register your artwork to own the copyright. You own a copyright as soon as you create something. International law also supports this. Right now, registration allows you to sue for damages, in addition to fair value.
What makes me so MAD about this new legislation is that it legalizes THEFT! The only people who benefit from this are those who want to make use of our creative works without paying for them and large companies who will run the new private copyright registries.
These registries are companies that you would be forced to pay in order to register every single image, photo, sketch or creative work.
It is currently against international law to coerce people to register their work for copyright because there are so many inherent problems with it. But because big business can push through laws in the United States, our country is about to break with the rest of the world, again, and take your rights away ...
(Update: Commenters below -- in particular the estimable Kevin Geiger -- point out how misleading this article is ... and by extension, how wrong I am (was?) for buying into it. For a full airing of the issue, continue on to the "comments" thread.)
Of late, the U.S. of A. has become an expert at breaking the rest of the world's laws, so why shouldn't we go break another one?
Here's the reason: This time, we're not making mischief overseas, but robbing American citizens, in particular citizens who draw, photograph, paint, those kinds of things.
"This will devastate the livelihood of artists, photographers and designers in a number of ways. ... That at the behest of a few hugely rich corporations who got rich by selling art that they played no part in the making of, the U.S. and U.K. governments are changing the copyright laws to protect the infringer instead of the creator. This is unjust, culturally destructive and commercial lunacy. This will not just hurt millions of artists around the world" ...
Not good. Not necessary. And doesn't Bill Gates have enough money already, without stealing from others?
Go now and write or phone your senator and congress person, and let them know how much this sucks. As I am.