I posted a reply to David Brooks, but want to add that the Orphan Works bill goes light years beyond addressing the problems of museums and libraries due to its overly broad language. It would reduce market value and facilitate outright theft of photographs and art by encouraging unscrupulous persons to simply lift images for free, knowing that if caught they will be required to pay only a nominal amount IF the photographer has the money, time, and energy to pursue them in the legal system. Further, it will force photographers who want copyright protection to pay a fee to one or more private corporations to archive their work. For many photographers, that would mean thousands of images. The US Copyright Office doesn't want to maintain this database, so we would have to entrust our images to corporations with a profit motive.
The net effect will be that many marketable images posted online will be snapped up and used for advertising without payment. This has already happened to many of us under the current law, but the bill would encourage an explosion of such thefts. This isn't necessary to give relief to museums and libraries, so why is it even being considered? At least in part because too few photographers and other creative types are aware of this bill's threat, and because we're not a unified group with money and political clout. Congress should hold hearings on the harm the bill will do to small businesses and individual photographers, artists, musicians, and other creative people. It should be carefully redrafted to benefit only museums and libraries, and strictly prohibit private corporations and individuals from hiding behind the orphan works label while helping themselves to our private property. Please let your congressional representatives know where you stand ASAP, and ask everyone you know to do likewise. The bill has been hotlined twice recently, so it could pass in the Senate with very little warning. Check out illustratorspartnership.org for further info. Thanks for reading.