Mickey Mouse Bill


Dear Artist,

The principle of post-monetization says that nothing is worth anything until somebody wants it. Those of us who make art for a living essentially operate — outside of commissioned work — on this principle. We make the stuff and put it out there. When somebody decides, for whatever reason, that they want it, then the amount they are willing to pay is exactly the value at that time. If we choose to resell, reproduce or replicate, that’s our business too. We still own the copyright.

The convention of putting a little c with a circle around it became redundant in the U.S. in 1976. In current copyright law, every drawing, painting, photograph, poem or play is simply owned by you, the author. If somebody swipes it, or uses it without your permission, you have the law on your side to chase them down and get paid.

That’s why the current Orphan Works Act now being considered by the U.S. Congress is particularly baffling. Promoted by dough-head non-artists who are obviously listening to big-time lobbyists, this bill says that you the artist must now officially register every single work you wish to protect. The online registries, presumably fee based, haven’t yet been established.

Big boys like Disney have always felt the necessity to register copyrights. Can you imagine what’s involved in owning and protecting Mickey Mouse? That’s why I’m calling this the Mickey Mouse Bill. It continues to protect Mickey but leaves little guys like you and me with another layer of paperwork and expense. While in the guise of a last-ditch attempt to locate and release unclaimed (orphaned) work, in my opinion this is very bad legislation indeed. If someone can tell me the possible value of the Orphan Works Act, I’d really appreciate it.

Post-monetization is our life blood. The choice to defend an extant work should always be in the hands of the creator or his assigns. That’s why the current law works so well. A few years ago, a car company decently asked me if they might use one of my (already sold) paintings in the background of a car ad. I named a reasonable fee and they readily agreed. We used a “one time only” contract and we didn’t even use a lawyer. If the Orphan Works Act becomes law, Mercedes-Benz, without an author’s prior registration, could just help themselves. No ask. No pay. Nutz.

Best regards,


PS: “The problem is that very few of the billions of images will ever be registered. No artist that I know of has the time to pull out every work of art they have ever produced and register them with all the upcoming electronic databases.” (Mark Simon, artist advocate)

Esoterica: The advent of the Internet has been somewhat responsible for this turn of events. Some pundits think we’re about to enjoy the sunset of copyright. As it is, Chinese artists are ripping jpegs from the Western Internet, cloning and reselling our stuff like crazy. We can’t get at them because they’re in another jurisdiction. Now the U.S. wants this in their jurisdiction? Nutz. In the meantime, the big boys like Google and Microsoft would like to see Mickey Mouse happen. They’ve got the deep pockets to get what they want. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t, and besides, I don’t like filling out forms.


Write to your representatives
by Coulter Watt, Quakertown, PA, USA


“The Builder”
oil painting
by Coulter Watt

This is indeed vital legislation for all artists to take political action on. It’s vital that every US artist contact their Congressmen and Senators regarding this ill-conceived bill. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and numbers count. So I encourage everyone to write their representatives and tell them that the proposed Orphan Works Act puts their livelihood in jeopardy. The Orphan Works Act of 2006: Bill Number: H.R. 5439, is sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.

(RG note) Thanks, Coulter. So many artists wrote to ask what they can do about this. The answer is to be informed, understand the issues and their consequences, and to write or phone your representative. We artists and arts advocates can see what the politicians can’t. See letter below.


Online info on the bills
by LC Neill, Lake Norman, NC, USA


“The Wine Stopper- II”
oil painting
by LC Neill

To read more about the Orphan Works Bill and get a better understanding you can access these sites: Article about the issues by Mark Simon — Animation World Magazine. Audio Interview with Brad Holland — Artist and formed IPA interview from Sat April 5, 2008. Audio Interview with Alex Saviuk, famed Spider-Man comic artist regarding the Orphan Works bill. Illustrators’ Partnership of America — Orphan Works resource page.

The actual bills in Congress introduced originally 2006 and again on April 24, 2008: H.R. 5889 The Orphan Works Act of 2008 and the S 2913 The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008.

Please take a moment and write your congress person and be sure to include the H.R. 5899 and S. 2913 Orphan Bill Numbers. ( Find your representative and find your Senators).

Take action, write your letters and send this information on to every artist (writers, photographers, illustrators, visual artists etc.) that you know. Let your voice be heard! It’s ridiculous that an artist would have to pay to “own” their own creation.


Who lobbies for us?
by Carole Pigott, Santa Fe, NM, USA


“Jackson Square Morning”
oil painting
by Carole Pigott

The problem is that artists have no significant lobbyist, so those who have turned creativity into consumerism are destroying what little legal structure there was to protect our rights. What would the artists’ world be like if we had the same rights and protections as musicians and actors, if we had a percentage of the resale of our works, or if we had someone fighting for our rights. Instead they freely take away our tax incentive to donate and only allow the material costs to be deducted, galleries close and disappear with your work, (or never pay) safe in the knowledge that the expenses of going after them is much more than the value of the piece.


Throw the scoundrels out!
by Peter Lloyd, Blacker Hill, England

Governments love this kind of legislation — another Department for a political hack to be appointed to at a fat salary AND inflation-proofed pension, plus dozens, maybe hundreds, of officials performing mindless routine clerical work, at good salaries and more inflation-proofed pensions — unproductive costs piling up for the future. Don’t let it happen! Over here in the UK we now have more than half of the population working for the Government one way or another, on just these sorts of useless activities, with the other half paying over 50% of our income to maintain them. We’re drowning in useless paperwork. We have forgotten how to actually make stuff that people want, like refrigerators, TVs and MRI scanners. Let this be a lesson to you! Throw the scoundrels out!

(RG note) Thanks, Peter. So far we have received no correspondence from visual artists who are in favor of Mickey Mouse. I am encouraging people to read the proposed acts. Please feel free to add further insight and opinion in the instantaneous Live Comments below. We will pass all material received on to the proper authorities, so your opinions will be heard.


Affecting online representation
by H Margret, Santa Fe, NM, USA


“Scarlet hood”
acrylic painting
by H Margret

If the wealthy and influential artists like you don’t oppose this legislation, it will go through and cause the recognized artists a lot more trouble than those of us whose work is not valued. It will also provide a lot of free design work to all those big and small companies who pirate art and design. They will make tiny changes and use whatever they want, paying no one. I am writing my representative to oppose this. The really interesting results will be seen on the Web, where posting art will become dangerous financially to an artist when our work will be freely used. It will destroy the value of websites.



Educating your representatives
by Pam Craig, Memphis, TN, USA

How do we stop the nonsense? Emails are flying with suggestions and numbers and how to.

I actually followed the suggestion of one email and called my representative. The response was “What? Have no idea what you are talking about.” Great, I have a representative who isn’t in the loop, who therefore has no possibility of making it known from this area that this “Mickey Mouse Bill” hurts one or many of his constituents. So Robert, how does one individual get with others, get noticed and possibly stop the nonsense of this bill? Like you, I do not have mega bucks to fight the Bill Gates, Disneys or even the Hanna Barberas, who might think this is a great idea. So where do we go for the little voice?


Disney’s resources
by Anonymous

Do you know how bad Disney really is? I know a guy who worked for them but when he left he was not allowed to state that on his resume since they consider that a free advertisement for him. I also read about a kindergarten class in rural Canada who had to repaint their walls because of a Mickey mural. Can you imagine how much it must cost to track down those things? Based on those stories I would not be surprised if you get a phone call asking you to remove any mentions of Mickey from your letter.


Mindless legislation
by Patrick Watson, Gold Coast, Australia


“At water’s edge”
acrylic painting
by Patrick Watson

I couldn’t agree more with your comments, in fact I would have to go much further and say if such an act as the ‘Orphan Works Act’ comes into play then it might spell the end to any budding artist wanting to become a professional artist. Already, any pro artist must fight hard for recognition, find suitable galleries to display his or her work and at the same time hope they are not being exploited. The artist must create the art work, in most cases frame it then understand that most galleries will want to take a large percentage, as high as 50%. Now instead of the artist owning the copyright we are being told the new bill being suggested will make it near impossible for any struggling artist to protect their work from being used by any individual or organization. Unless you are one of the few wealthy artists it would be simply impossible to register every single work. Once again the poor artist is the one who must pay up or suffer the consequences. I say that for once we artists must stick together and fight against the ‘Orphan Works Act’ and stop it becoming law.

I live in Australia but sell my work around the world including the United States. It doesn’t matter where you live and work, if such an act was introduced it would indeed affect us all. I call on artists everywhere to stand up and strongly oppose this mindless piece of legislation.


Orphan Works and the IRS
by Diane Fleming, British Columbia, Canada

It should be up to each artist to decide what and when they want to copyright their work, through a law firm of their choice. Even if this new Act came into effect, one would still need to hire a lawyer to go after the copyright violators. Then why would I have to pay a government body that will gladly take my money but sit on their hands when I need help with a violation resolution? Further, the “Orphan Works Act” is a slap in the face of the right to privacy. Oh!, but IRS, and possibly CRA (Canada) in a not so distant future would have fun checking to see if we declare the income we bring in on the sale of our paintings. This so-called “act” smells of hidden agenda, don’t you think? So now, not only would we have to pay to register our work, but we would be under the constant scrutiny of “Big Brother.” Excuse my skepticism but, time and again, dishonest government reps have figured out ways to profit from honest taxpayers. I would be greatly concerned about grand theft of valuable work. If art work has to be registered under the Orphan Works Act, I wonder if we would also have to declare where the art work is located i.e. name and address of the purchaser. See where I’m going with this?


A bunch at once?
by Tom Pirozzoli, Goshen, NH, USA

I’m no copyright expert but have copyrighted several hundred songs. In the song world it is possible to copyright groups of songs as a collective work. I do not know if this can be done for pictures or not, but would think like-rules apply if anyone wished to try.

(RG note) Thanks, Tom. It doesn’t seem that the initiators of this bill have worked out the details. I was unable to find reference to registering and protecting a whole bunch of images at the same time — say a year’s work or the images in a solo show.


by Peter Heineman, Morrison, CO, USA


“Two ewe”
pastel painting
by Peter Heineman

Perhaps you could create a petition and post a link to it on the Painter’s Keys Website. Since you are in contact with so many artists, perhaps the sheer number of responses would indicate the opposition to the proposed Mickey Mouse Bill. This petition could go to Senators, Congressmen, and the sponsors of the bill.




Keeping up-to-date
by Roger Asselin, St. Petersburg, FL, USA

Regarding the Orphan Act Bill, I’m all for simple, especially on the paper work end of things. In addition to my art, my wife and I are song writers, musicians and sing. The copyright laws for music are a royal pain and the pay off to unknowns (the little guy) is zero. It will be the same for other artists in all fields if this bill goes through. Copyright forms and fees are time consuming and expensive to deal with. The way I look at it is that we do all the work and pay them to keep a record.

In all honesty, My thought is that some group has a made up their mind that they are going to get the Orphan Act passed no matter what. It looks like it may pass as early as the Fall of this year if not stopped. Visit OrphanWorks.net for more information, the latest updates, commentaries, etc. Pour yourself a coffee and fix a lunch before you start.


The ease of manipulating online work
by Debbie Grogan


“Mountain grid”
watercolor painting
by Laura Whitesides Host

I am a licensed artist and take a classes from Laura Whitesides Host, a subscriber to your newsletter. She forwarded your response to her regarding the Orphan Works Bill. The bigger picture here is that if these bills pass, it will affect every artist in the country whether or not you sell your work, license it or not. You are correct when you say our work is automatically covered by copyright law, however if some one uses it without your permission or infringes on that copyright, you have the right to legally go after them, but the work at that point must be registered with the copyright office of the government for you do do so. This bill would make it impossible for artists like myself to register each and every piece of work as we have thousands of things in our files or on paper. The non existent registration companies will charge whatever they want for their fee and we will be forced to pay it- or suffer the consequences. The technology is out there to take things off the Internet and use them and this bill passing will make it easier for it to happen here in the US. The folks behind this are the sites that have images posted for free like Getty and iStock Photo. They want more images on their sites because they will make more money each time they are downloaded. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were already creating their own “registration” sites as well in preparation for those who would need to do this if it passes. The sad thing is most artists do not think it applies to them but they couldn’t be more wrong! I have gone to Laura’s website, right clicked and saved one of her images, I then scanned it with my Epson high res scanner and enlarged her little jpg to 16×20, I Photshopped her name out and added “Mickey Mouse”. I am taking it to class today to show her just how easy it would be to do this and how vulnerable her art is. At this point I can only say I know that if this bill passes it will heavily affect many artists who create for a living as I do.

The licensing industry is a multi billion dollar business and those who will lose the most will be smaller folks like myself. As fellow artists I would hope that even if you do not think this will affect you (and I guarantee you, it will) that you at least be courteous and supportive of you fellow artists that will be truly affected and write your local representatives and ask they vote no.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Mickey Mouse Bill



From: Gail Ribas — May 06, 2008

Thank you Robert for bringing this extremely important issue to the attention of your subscribers.

I wonder exactly what situation prompted the need for these “bills” (there are two) in the first place? And, who (in the art world) did the architects of the bills confer with? Certainly not anyone who makes a living creating images.

The other very important part of these bills is that if you bring a law suit against an infringer, you will only get compensated for the “fair” licensed usage rate – your legal fees will not be covered. As most of us are already “starving artists” – who could afford to do so…

From: Rick Rotante — May 06, 2008

This is just one more nail in the art coffin and the reason art suffers in America. Big business can smell the money that can be made from artists and know that artists, being who they are and how they are made, are assured that we won’t have the resources (money) to register each and every work we’ve created over a lifetime. This MM bill speaks to the very core of America and shows artists where they sit in the hierarchy of an industrial society. Computers like the telephone, blackberry, Ipods and the myriad of products are a mixed blessing. We can now communicate instantly with both devices but are now having our rights and privileges eroded from under us. Even if we wanted to create art for arts sake, we will now be forced into an economic situation few can afford while corporations grow fat and we get our meager dividends as reward for feeding into the whole scheme of the machine.

In the end, we’ve done this to ourselves. We like all the gadgets, bells and whistles and these “toys” keep our focus off the real target. We are numb followers who just want our little piece of earth to live and die on while television and ipods keep us amused.

From: Mary Harnett — May 06, 2008

Activate yourselves! Tell other artists, google Orphan Bill to get the facts, write (Faxing is best) your congressperson and Senators too. Complaining does no good, we’re preaching to the choir. Do it now for yourself for all artists worldwide.

From: Plamen Petkov (Las Vegas, NV, USA) — May 07, 2008

It simply amazes me how people still identify and talk about USA as a ‘democracy’ when it’s obvious to anybody with two working brain cells that it is nothing but. I don’t want to turn this into a rant against the USA but you American people need to wake up and seriously start thinking about totally changing your system. Otherwise you are in for a rude wakening.

From: Sandy Nelson — May 07, 2008

Thanks for the heads-up on this ridiculous piece of legislation! I’m ready to rally my artist friends and others to start the complaining…not to mention alerting my congressional representatives and senators as to what is really going on here!! Enough already! Funny…….we are taken advantage of at every turn, but when it comes time to design something, donate work or give our creations out for their charities and greeting cards……..they call an artist!

From: Cris Weatherby — May 07, 2008

Should I write to my congressman? This is the first that I have heard of this bill….

From: Liz Reday — May 07, 2008

There are a lot of artists in the U.S.A. – if everyone wrote, e-mailed, etc. their congressperson and senator it MIGHT do something. Unity is strength, I hope. Artists in Canada could still write to Congress.

From: EM Corsa — May 07, 2008

Unfortunately I make just enough to keep my head above water, not enough to pay a fee to register every piece I produce! I know many individuals and companies that would love to get their hands on my work for free.

From: Tony Angus — May 07, 2008

You’re right on but, let’s face it, nobody can f__k up the simple beauty of reality like politicians and their pets, the bureaucrats (or is it the other way around?).

From: Amanda Carder — May 07, 2008

I was just wondering if there is any productive way that you know of to fight this bill. I try to stay out of most politics but I do believe in standing up for what is right.

From: Omar Shaheed — May 07, 2008

This bill will enable anyone to help themselves at the artist’s expense. I’m not surprised. There’s a lot of good art being made and there are the greedy who want the liberty to indulge without paying one dime.

From: Donna Harkins — May 07, 2008

Your letter on copyright struck fear in my heart. I’ve had a couple battles over this, with the law totally clearly backing me. I barely balance my checkbook, much less register every little doodle… It feels like the loss of yet another civil liberty– and one that we artists simply can’t afford.

From: Jackie K. Ivey-Weaver — May 07, 2008

Yes ! You have put an appropriate name to this bill. Wish we could get our politicians to use such common sence on every issue.

From: Valerie McCaffrey — May 07, 2008

The Orphans Work Act of 2006 seeks to have creative works that are unregistered and untraceable to be able to be used in the public domain (this is an over simplification by me). It would limit the rights of inheritance unless the work is deemed as such and (possibly) registered. This means that if a work of art created by you is in someone else’s possession and cannot be traced to you, that person has the right to reproduce or use your work in any way they want.

From: Leza Macdonald — May 07, 2008

Found the letter in the clickbacks, hidden under the joyful title of Mickey Mouse Bill and bam — someone with nothing else to do is creating more paperwork crap! I am already over taxed and want my money back. I can do a better job with it than “they” can. I want to buy my own garden because I feel “they” are not selling me decent food, and I will spare you my thoughts on the quality of air and water! And now someone wants forms filled out to protect my images!! I don’t think so!

From: Sarah Hessinger — May 07, 2008

Thank you for writing about this, I’ve been trying to get other artists in my group to take it seriously about a couple of weeks ago, and most of them said it was a hoax, or that there was no way it was going to be going thru, due to the current laws of copyright. They just don’t want to understand that they are trying to Change the current laws… Please keep your readers updated on this, you have the experience and the respect earned already in place to be heard much more then I ever could at this point. It is much appreciated.

From: Kenneth R. White — May 07, 2008

Do we as artists have an advocate in Washington to lobby against this Asinine law? If not, what can we do to have one? If every artist paid a small fee we could afford a team of advocates!

From: Steve Koch — May 07, 2008

Every step of the way… your thoughtful and encouraging words have helped me understand at least a little more of myself and the art world “out there”…

From: Clint Watson — May 07, 2008

I have recently written on this same subject, as I was told by a prominent art lawyer that the bill is “nothing to worry about.”

From: Valerie Norberry — May 07, 2008

I’m not going to “worry my pretty head” (to quote Gone With the Wind, oh, should I pay a fee for that quote) about this one. I know that there is no copyright on calligraphy. If I wend my illustrations around the letters of my calligraphic pieces, I just know the Chinese will get a headache trying to copy my Jpeg. And that, “frankly my dear” would make my day.

From: Bruce Combs — May 07, 2008

Re: H.R. 5899 and S. 2913

A nation that does not value, much less promote, its art is on the way to becoming a military state, or one in which nothing matters beyond consumerism and mercantilism. Please give this matter your most careful and heartfelt consideration for the artists of today, those coming tomorrow, and for the world of all our children and grandchildren.

From: Faith Puleston — May 07, 2008

Bonkers, the whole idea. I’m asking myself what the rest of the world is going to do with its art – surely the U.S. does not expect us all to register our work – where? The whole idea is a farce of monumental proportions invented by people with monkeys (or mice) on their shoulders! I loved the phrase “simple reality of politicians” above. In Germany there is a debate about poverty in old age, after an inane, fact-cat politician claimed that there is no such thing. This is the day before they grant themselves a salary raise that exceeds (I mean just the increase) the income of many pensioners by hundreds of euros. I should point out that in Germany you can become a politician by being on a reserve list and get into parliament without a public vote if your party likes you well enough… Lack of intelligence, understanding and common sense have never barred anyone from being in government. “Have I said too much?” (Quote from Evita)

From: Terry Mason — May 08, 2008

Why shouldn’t I worry my pretty little head about this? I am not going to register every scrap of drawing I do and I don’t want my work to be in the public domain just because I don’t. And I am not paying anyone a fee to do it. So, do we write congress as a good first step? Other than here I haven’t heard a word about this? Why are not our magazines writing about this? They are who I rely on to tell me what is important? Why aren’t they up in arms? Is this really as bad as it sounds? I wish I could get a clear feel for it…other than “us folks” here talking about it.

From: Monte Wilson — May 09, 2008
From: Linnie Weiss — May 09, 2008
From: Casey Craig — May 09, 2008
From: Mary Bullock — May 09, 2008

In answer to the person that asked if multiple pieces of art could be registered as a collection with the copy right office (much like music). The answer is yes, you can register quite a lot of pieces of art (I think I once registered 30) under the term “collection” all for one charge. So it is not quite as expensive as you might think.

From: Brad Michael Moore — May 09, 2008

I’m glad everyone is getting a line on this issue – and sad the issue has been out there for two years to fight. I’m even sadder that – even though I have written several letters to all my representatives in Congress – they are all Republicans who have been in power during all the Bush Years and have always nearly blindly followed all of his policies. Even with the upcoming sea-change, at least in my district, these puppet politicians have never, in 8 years, shown to me that they have a care for anyone making less than 1 million a year. All my letters have been in vain, I fear. Recently, I complained to my Representative that the oil companies are now using local well water purchased from individuals to frac their wells. This is a practice never before heard of. In the past, they would use surface water from ponds and lakes – now they are draining our aquifers that rural communities and people rely upon for their drinking water, for their homes, families, and their agriculture. The response I got from my Republican Rep, “Well, we’ve talked to the oil industry and they promise us this practice will be stopped within 30 years!!! Can you see our problem – we may not know Dick Cheney’s Energy Plan secretly created in the First Bush 4 years – but the politicians do… So when I look at this treacherous Orphan Bill – meant to make all artists anonymous donors to the corporate machine – I can only see that this grand plan to dehydrate our middle class to form a 2-class society in America has progressed far in 7+ years. The best thing we can do now – is to delay this bill from passing in this last Bush Session of Congress. In the next session – I know we can get it squashed. For right now – include in your letter to delay as a compromise into the next session – A Democratic controlled Session, and there is where artists can put the nails into this life-letting legislation.

From: Chris H — May 10, 2008

Am I correct in thinking that there is a similar policy being pursued in Europe? The American one, if passed, would fire up a European one almost for sure. It doesn’t just affect artists either; what about all the zillions of other websites that display images, many are copyright of the site owners…for example, I help run a website for a charity-based museum, we have lots of pictures on display….we’d have to register everything and even then it wouldn’t guarantee the prevention of theft. Such legislation could change the whole face of the Internet….i.e no pictures, only text. Where’s the value in that? Being a non-professional artist, I suppose it doesn’t matter much to me, but it would kill off my website and those of many hundreds of thousands of others who run them and gain the pleasure of showing their work around the world (with an occasional sale). It would also wipe out all online galleries, forums, the lot……how on earth could one keep up with the admin on all of those?

Personally I think it’s such a huge, complicated dinosaur of an idea, that I don’t see how it could be administered with any great efficiency.

From: Cathy Hegman — May 10, 2008

I agree this is a grave problem for all of us. I wonder if there would be a way to incorporate ourselves and in doing so get an attorney to state that any creation from the corporation is solely copyrighted by the corporation. I wonder if this would fly. I have racked my brain trying to figure a way to give us freedom to create and not be free for the taking. I am not an attorney but if anyone is or knows one that would advise on this it might be a viable way to not have to register every piece of art we create.

From: Peter Yelland — May 10, 2008

I would enthusiastically subscribe to a petition protesting the above proposed Acts and who better than Robert to instigate one on this site. PY

From: Judy Dykstra-Brown — May 10, 2008

I’m not competent enough in my computer skills to establish a petition, but if someone is, and if we could send a group of these comments to each of our legislators, it might have a real effect. Does anyone have the skills to do so?

From: Dorian Allworthy — May 11, 2008

I like to take images from the newspaper and other public publications for my graphic work. How would I pay the fee to use these images – Will I ever be paid for my work ? And if I am then these people can come after me ? is that fair ?

From: Jennifer Horsley — May 11, 2008

I just clicked on the link in Casey Craig’s comment and sent letters to my congressmen. It really is easy!

From: Jaleen Grove — May 11, 2008

The Orphan Works Bill is a huge problem and I do not support it in the least. HOWEVER, as an art historian I must say we do need some sort of policy to cover instances where we need to reproduce a work in a nonprofit, scholarly publication, but we cannot find the copyright holder – or the copyright holder says no or wants to charge an unaffordable fee.

We especially need to clarify the grey area of whether we can reprint an image already published elsewhere, which is like quoting from a published text.

Much scholarship is currently being compromised or stopped altogether by the inability to get permissions, and as a result, many artists are losing out on critical and scholarly research on their work.

From: Joyce Goden godenfineart.com — May 13, 2008
From: Ben — May 14, 2008
From: Frank Armistead — May 14, 2008

I tried to contact Rep. Lamar Smith but, as usual, found that his site is set up to only accept emails from within the U. S. American legislation, especially in our present political climate, has a huge impact on Canadians. Can we create a Canadian avenue to register our concerns with American representatives and begin to create a North American or even World voice?

From: Frank Armistead: — May 14, 2008
From: Joyce Goden — May 14, 2008

Years and years ago, when I first became a artist…you could send yourself a letter requesting copyright info about copyrighting, including a picture of your work—it would be postmarked (dated)—you would just file it away unopened…if ever anybody pirated your art work that letter would be legal evidence and you would win the case in court…

imho-(the price of a stamp should be all it takes to keep your work yours)—old dead artists work may be a different story…joyce

From: Kathy Drungilas — May 14, 2008

The result of this bill will limit the amount of damages that a copyright owner can recover for unauthorized use of a copyrighted work and is dependant upon the infringer having made a search for the owner of the copyright. It does not negate your ability to sue for and recover damages completely.

What does this mean to me as an artist? It means that anyone can use an image of your work for whatever purpose (including reprinting and selling the image) as long as they do a search for you as owner of the copyright first. Failing to find you as an owner listed either with the US Copyright Office or other database repository (to be defined at a future date), anyone can use your image and profit by it. As long as they prove an attempt was made to find you.

As the owner of a copyright, once you realize your image is being used without your permission, you can still sue to stop the infringement and recover some damages. What the bill intends to do is limit or negate statutory damages being levied against someone who infringes against the copyright owned by another. Per the proposed bill, “an award for monetary relief (including actual damages, statutory damages, costs, and attorney’s fees) may not be made, other than an order requiring the infringer to pay reasonable compensation for the use of the infringed work.” And damages may not be deemed required if, “the infringer ceases the infringement expeditiously after receiving notice of the claim for infringement” and gives the author credit as originator of the work.

Some damages will still be available – usually a limited fine, which varies from state to state, and an opportunity to recover a portion of monies from the profits an infringer has made. But there will no longer be a chance for some damages — currently the law allows statuatory damages up to $30,000 per infraction and up to $150,000 for intentional infringement, plus actual damages and court costs to discourage unauthorized use of a work. As defined in a report to Congress by the US Copyright Office on the proposed bill, “reasonable compensation should be the amount “a reasonable willing buyer and reasonable willing seller in the positions of the owner and user would have agreed to at the time the use commenced.”

With the proliferation of images used on the internet, it is possible that an image can lose its identifying labels, be copied from site to site, watermarks can be removed, and an image renamed so as to lose its association with the artist that created it. Color copies could be made from a legitimate paper reproduction and end up on greeting cards, ceramics, pillows, or other uses. Its not impossible to separate, either intentionally or not, the author’s name from an image. It becomes more important than ever that your painting images are registered with the US Copyright office!

Yes, you can register multiple works with the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office for a $35-45 fee. You can include a digital cd-rom that includes all your works created in a year for that small fee. It makes sense! Registering is what prevents your work being in the public domain and protects you as the creator of the work.

Oppose the bill and let your representatives know your opinion, but also — register your art!

From: Renuka — May 14, 2008

About 4 years ago our garage was broken into and 3 of my paintings were stolen. I just have pictures of them and did think of reproducing them, but may never…..! I did not report this loss at the time, since I did not realize they had been stolen!

From: David Dunn — May 14, 2008

First of all, I want to express a sincere thank you for this publication. I am fascinated by what is discussed and I like the way you write. As far as the legislation is concerned, I would have liked it a whole lot more if you had included its title, numbers, and just where it is at politically. I could also use the different ways to contact the Pols. who will vote on this. Please remember, this is ELECTION TIME, and all those Pols are slavering away to reach out and touch Voters. Kindly tell us who to email, phone, and write. As I said, I really do want to convey a hearty thank you for all you do. I appreciate it.

From: Doris5 dpart@telus.net — May 14, 2008

Whatever it was you did with your new system, I love it. Now I don’t have to cut and paste to go into the clickback at the end of the letter. Thanks a bunch!!!!! Doris5

From: Kathi Colman — May 15, 2008

DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE INNOCENCE OF THIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION! This would cause art to go underground, i.e., we artists will all remove our art images now online (websites, blogs, etc.) and KILL the art licensing industry! This bill would cost us all to register every single one of our sketches -outrageous!- as well as come up with money to sue the thieves who illicitly produce our “orphaned” images… Even consider what this would mean to the workload of our judicial system! Trusting in old fashioned Common Sense to prevail, I am.

From: John Fitzsimmons — May 15, 2008

Right on!

From: Denise Frank — May 15, 2008

My medium is actually quilting and sometimes includes art quilts. Recently, rules for entering some shows have stated that the work must not have even been shown to others while being created because that may have influenced choices and the art is no longer the maker’s own. The piece must then be entered as a group effort.

From: Peter Heineman — May 15, 2008

Perhaps you could create a petition and post a link to it in your newsletter. Since you are in contact with so many artists, perhaps the sheer number of responses would indicate the opposition to the proposed Mickey Mouse Bill. This petition could go to Senators, Congressmen, and the sponsors of the bill.

From: Johnnie Liliedahl — May 15, 2008
From: Rich Mason — May 15, 2008

Thank you Robert for bringing this Mickey Mouse Bill to our attention…I have done what any concerned US artist who is selling their work or not should do. Write their congressman and voice their displeasure to this. Seems like since our current administration has been in office integrity in govt. has declined steadily. Big business has been destroying the environment with govt blessing and now they would like to remove any small amount of protection artists have for their work. I for one am looking forward to November.

From: Andee — May 15, 2008
From: Linda Berg — May 15, 2008

I suppose if this bill passes it would enable a person capable of copying to do so at will. Further one could sell a work or rather a counterfeit and profit from someone else’s creativity. It is my belief that an artist can look at other works for ideas and techniques however leave the scanner/photocopier capability in the office. I have neither the time nor the money to register my work for protection, (as if my work requires protection).

From: Terry Krysak — May 15, 2008
From: Melissa — May 15, 2008
From: Todd Reifers — May 15, 2008

As we continue to ask the government to provide more and more for us, these kinds of bills get thrown into the pile of needless changes they continue to make. We are no longer a society of productive people providing for ourselves…we want the government to “take care” of us and “protect” us with a “FREE RIDE”!! SOOO, we get what we asked for along with a lot WE DIDN’T WANT OR NEED!

JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY GET THEIR HANDS ON OUR MEDICAL CARE PROGRAM. I don’t know how the American public could possibly think that they won’t screw this up when they have screwed up everything they touch! There’s a lot of “Mr. Mouse” in the Senate and the House these days!

From: Carole — May 15, 2008
From: Wendy — May 15, 2008

Is there a bill number or any other designation other than the Orphan works Act to designate this misguided piece of legislation. Is there any organized protestation against it?

From: Larry Malone — May 15, 2008

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

From: D.D Gadjanski — May 15, 2008

It seams to me that the lobbyists are also rooting for the printing houses. In case of the adoption of this bill they would be able to appropriate a lot of images free of charge and print it at profits of which none will go to artists who produced the work.

From: Melissa Walker — May 15, 2008

I have been hearing rumors about this bill for about 2 weeks now, but no one has given the exact bill number or when it is up for a vote. I would like to write my congressmen about this, but need more concrete information. Can someone please find this information so that everyone can write an informed letter? Thanks for your help.

From: K.A.McFadyen — May 16, 2008

Our congressmen need to remember that artists vote! They tried to take cadmium paints away in the late 1980’s and learned about our too silent community. Please call/write your congressmen/women and be heard on this issue asap. Thanks to Robt. Genn.

From: Diana Moses Botkin — May 16, 2008
From: Janet Sellers — Sep 12, 2008






Emerald Forest

oil painting
by Dawn Banning


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes JoRene Newton of TX, USA who wrote, “If we have to spend our time registering our works we wouldn’t have time to create!”

And also Theresa Bayer of Austin, TX, USA who wrote, “There are two orphan artworks bills before the US Congress: S. 2913 and H.R. 5889. I guess you’ll have to include Donald Duck in with Mickey Mouse when you talk about Orphan Artworks.

And also Margaret Henkels of Santa Fe, NM, USA who wrote, “We are scheduled for a correction that dwarfs the Depression. They actually think they can finance Iraq and other military projects with such fee-based revenues. Myself, I will pull my website and return to the old ways of doing business.”

And also Shirl Parker of Brownsville, TX, USA who wrote, “The Orphan Works Act attempts to offer options to would-be publishers and others who have exhausted all efforts to find authors in order to get permission to use.”

And also Susan Gallacher-Turner of Portland, OR, USA who wrote, “Don’t call it the Orphan Works Act. Call it stealing.”

And also Lynda Lehmann of NY, USA who wrote, “I urge everyone posting on the Internet to upload images under 600 pixels wide, and with a clear copyright directly on the image.”

And also Joseph Jahn of Denmark who wrote, “That’s exactly why it’s being done. So that Disney can keep on stealing from artists, as they have done for years.




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