CLAUDINE HELLMUTH
CLAUDINE HELLMUTH blog   

Friday, May 09, 2008
do you post your family photos online? read this!
There are two bills that are coming up in the House and Senate that will change copyright as we know it.

They were shot down once before because of action against it --- but now they are back as bill numbers H.R. 5889 The Orphan Works Act of 2008 and S 2913 The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008

If you post your family photos on Flickr, anywhere on the internet or on your blog read on!

Could you imagine if someone used your child's photo in an unsavory advertisement and you had no say and no rights to make them stop using it! This could easily happen if these bills are passed. There has already been an instance of Virgin Mobile using unauthorized Flickr photos of children in advertisements & billboards and that is before this law was proposed. We do not need to make it easier for them to steal your family photos!

If you are posting your photos online, you should read below and then send a letter (there is an EASY fill out form on the Illustrator Partnership web site all you do is enter your info and press send!)Takes 1 minute!!!

This is NOT a hoax. This is FOR REAL. And it is scary. Some people say us illustrators and designers are being alarmist, but I would rather err on the side of caution, defeat this bill and keep my copyrights as they are now. These bills were shot down once because of strong resistance from Illustrators, designers and photographers we can defeat these bills again!

This is text from the Illustrator Partnership web site:
Due to the lack of publicity about this bill, the most innocent victims of this plunder – those who put images online - are still completely unaware of it. Who am I talking about? Average American families who have enjoyed the internet as a way to share the happiest, and even saddest, moments of their lives with their friends and family across the country, and even around the world, through the wonders of technology. Google has already said they plan to use these orphan works in the millions. Why should companies like this be allowed to to harvest our property from private web pages, blog sites, share sites and the like?

On all my illustration and licensing boards we have been talking about it for weeks but now the day of reckoning is almost here and not enough people know about it to help us strike it down in the Senate. We need to make our feelings heard.

If you want to protect your rights go here and send a letter. It only takes 1 minute. Here is the link. Then tell all your friends!

Thanks to everyone posting on their blogs and message boards about this important issue! Super thanks to my friend Tim Holtz for also posting and linking here. Getting the word out and getting people to send in letters is so important right now. it really only takes a minute via this widget! Time is of the essence!
thank you!!!

EDITED: Saturday at 12:50
Because this is such an involved and confusing topic, I am directing you to Tammy Browning Smith. She is a lawyer for the licensing and craft industry and she has posted to her Arts and Crafts Law Blog where you can get really informed answers from her, here's the link: http://artsandcraftslaw.blogspot.com/


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COMMENTS:
Thank you for bringing up this important case!
There is allready a advertising on eBay with an layout that I made with a picture of my daughter on, that the owner of the site never asked me to use. It is terrible to find out things like this...
 
Hi Claudine,
Thank you for making us aware of this! I went to the link and sent the letter . . . now I want to post something on my blog too. Is it okay with you to write a short post and link to your post? Leaving to exhibit at a trade show next week and drowning in all the preparation . . . I know you know that story - hence the request to direct peeps to your excellent post!
xoxx, Renée
 
renee

yes yes! please post to your blog! feel free to link here. Here is the direct link to my post:
http://claudinehellmuth.blogspot.com/2008/05/do-you-post-your-family-photos-online.html

good luck with your trade show!
 
Hi Claudine, thanks so much for posting about it, I hadn't heard! I put it up on my blog and filled out the form, too.
 
I found your post via T!m Holtz's blog. I added a post to my blog and linked to this post.

Thanks for making us aware.
 
Thank you Claudine for posting this VERY important issue; frankly, I'd never even considered this issue being something I would have to think about!
 
From what preliminary digging I have been doing this legislation appears to address orphan works which are defined as "copyrighted works whose owners cannot be located." I'm going to keep digging for loopholes and requirements for attempting to locate copyright holders before declaring a work an orphan. If you know of specific problems with the legislation please post about it.
 
thanks for bringing this to my attention. it was easy to do (i did it in less than a minute and the emails went to 2 senators and a congressman with ease) and i'll post a link on my blogs as well.
 
This is why I’ve been very reluctant to post anything with pictures of my friends, family & kids with out they're permission there are always people out there willing to steal your ideas a lot of add agencies just troll the net taking original ideas from unknown’s and spinning it as they’re own! I think it was Terry Pratchet who said creativity is a bit like a pot sometimes you put in to it some times you take out of it. A little like your spend a cent leave a cent that you have at some stores. Which of course I like the whole idea but there are always people who are taking & never putting back which spoils it for the rest of us. I will link to this, not that I get much traffic but it all helps thank you for bringing it to my attention it won’t be long before they try something like this in the UK! Seeya hugya *G*
 
Before everyone jumps on the bandwagaon, they should actually read the bills. I think they're being misinterpreted.
 
kaylaugh

one of the main issues that the Illustrator Partnership has with the bills if they do not define as what constitutes a "reasonable search" for the author of an image before declaring it an orphan.

They do not say if it is looking in one database or two or five. Or is is just an internet search.

The bills are very confusing for a regular person. And even lawyers are arguing over what they really mean, but I feel confident that they are not a good thing. With organizations like the Illustrator Partnership strongly against the bills, I feel justified in also taking action against them.

The current copyright law was working fine and was written in the favor of the creator. I do not see these new bills as being in the favor of the creator, designer, photographer or artist.
 
Below are two documents which explain the major objections to the two bills known as "Orpan Works", written by Joanne Fink, Licensing expert and President of Lakeside Design.

Download:
primary_objections_to_hr_5889.pdf

primary_objections_to_s_2913.pdf
 
Claudine...would you respond to the following information that someone posted in response to my post for folks to come here and read and take action. Here's the link.....

http://twopeasinabucket.kaboose.com/mb.asp?cmd=display&thread_id=2556715

I don't understand a lot of what she is saying and you seem to have a grasp of what is going on. I'm not asking you to respond on Two Peas, but if you could clarify what this PEA is saying here. Thanks.
 
Thanks for bringing this up again because it really is an important issue. I sent a letter to my Congressman and will pass it on to others.
 
On the other side of this, imagine being a creator, using an old photo in a collage (that you thought was old enough to be in the public domain), getting it published, then getting sued and losing your house because somebody still held the rights to that photo. The current law is not setup to protect the creator, it's setup to protect the right holder, which isn't always the same thing. There very much is another side to this issue, which you (collectively) should look into before dismissing this out of hand.

Dave
 
I saw a story of a few months back where this girl put her pictures on the internet. She found her picture on the cover of a porno box. I think she got it taken off, but it will always be on the ones that sold. She was not in the porn movie, they just liked her photo.
 
testing comments on blogger, they do not seem to want to work this morning :)
 
I read both of those links and it is hard to understand. From what I can tell it says you must mark your photos wity your name and a place to contact you, or to register each picture in your name.
 
Deby

in response to the post on 2peas I do think this effects our personal photos as much as it effects our artworks. The Illustrator Partnership lawyers are all in agreement on that.

I am not an expert on this topic, I have read the Bills, VERY confusing so here is what I have gathered from reading the lawyers comments on the Illustrator Partnership website, my licensing boards, as well as on the Craft & Hobby Association Designer message board.

These Bills will make it easier for your artworks and photos to be declared Orphan works. Even registered with the US Copyright Office.

Let's say someone comes across your photo through a Google Images search. They like your photo and they want to use in an Ad.

They do a "reasonable search" on one of the private databases that all artists, designers, and photographers will now have to pay to register their images in addition to the Copyright Office. They search maybe one of the databases for your image and do not find it. so they declare your work and Orphan. But you did not Orphan it!

So later let's say you find out this company is using your image and you want them to stop. The burden of proof would be on you to prove that they did not a "reasonable" search to find you. Of course they would say that they did and then it would become a "he said she said" type of argument.

From what I gather from lawyers, is that the main sticking point is this whole definition of "reasonable search" it is not defined and what one person thinks is reasonable another person might not. One person might think looking in one database is reasonable while another person might think you need to look at 10. They need to define what constitutes a reasonable search for this Bill.

The other hairy thing about this bill is the use of private for profit databases where artists, photographers and designers would have to register their images and Pay. There might be one of these databases, but there could be 10 and that would get very expensive to register 1 image in 10 different databases.

Again, I am not expert. This is what I understand from reading the Bills myself and also from listening to lawyers opinions at the Illustrator Partnership and The Craft &Hobby Association.

Because this is such an involved and confusing topic, I am directing you to Tammi Browning Smith. She is a lawyer for the licensing and craft industry and she has posted to her Arts and Crafts Law Blog where you can get really informed answers from her, here's the link:

http://artsandcraftslaw.blogspot.com/

 
Thanks for posting this! I will put this on my blog today!

Recently...
The other day I typed in (Faerie Dust Dreams) in yahoo search. I was pleased to see that all 9 pages were about my shop or in reference to it! But I did find a strange site.

it was like a search engine all their own, when you typed in search words, it came up with articles re: what you typed plus pictures to match the topic. 4 of my personal art pieces that I post on my flickr account were shown there with no reference to me. I also saw what looked like family photo's. and some of children.

The web site had no contact info to reached at.
 
thank you for letting us know how we can act! I just sent a letter to my congressman.
 
all I can say is WOW! I had no idea this was out there. I've just sent my letters in. Thanks so much for sharing.
 
Claudine, Thanks for giving me permission to post your comments on my blog. I also have info there from Tammy Browning Smith, an IP attorney, as well as Joanne Fink, who is very experienced in art licensing for many years. For more info, please visit!
Diane Knott
http://dianeknottsmusings.blogspot.com
 
The Graphic Artists Guild is a good source of info on this topic.
www.gag.org
 
claudine, i came to you via one of your followers who suggested that i read this post.

i am posting a link to it in my own blog.
 
Thanks for the message and the links - I've sent the letters and posted the message to my blog too.
 
I'm addressing what Anonymous/Dave posted above. Most copyright owners are not out to sue everybody. All we want do is protect our artwork and/or photographs from being taken from manufacturers and large corporations who can exploit it without paying .

Most of us ( speaking for the artists) feel there needs to be some sort of a bill that addresses the orphan works issue however we need to have certain protections before we change copyright law . We need to understand fully the repercussions of the way the current bill is written and how it will affect the entire design community. The ones it will hurt the most are the ones who earn a living from their artwork who are alive.

The way the language is written will require on behalf of the artist and/or owner of photographs to spend a lot of time registering things backtracking your old works,
organizing, spending energy to try to make sure their work is in these databases. however it is not realistic for most artists who create designs to run this kind of operation. most artists are just trying to earn a living.
it is also not realistic for people who post on the web to have to catalogue everything they create.

In the past in artist and or owner did not have to register their artwork for copyright, the incentive for an artist to register for copyright was if someone was to infringe their artwork they would be able to get not only damages but attorneys fees. Now if they catch the infringer they will only be paid what the manufacturer would normally pay for this kind of usage( this is all very vague). if the reasonable amount is $300 for a design they might've been able to make $10,000 if they have licensed it for a product on their own.

I would think it would be an incentive for large companies to take the risk and steal artwork because although anyone has the right to sue they would no longer get attorneys fees .Most artists do not have the resources, and/or the average person who post up photos online.

I hope that made sense. it is a complicated issue to understand the ramifications if the bill is passed in its current format there are people who've been explaining it much better than I can.

ALso The GAG is currently neutral on this particular issue. From my understanding they believe it is best for their lawyer to negotiate and try to get changes before we send letters until we see the final wording. Many of us feel that is not a good idea because things are moving very fast and we feel we need to be involved in the process.

Thank you Claudine for posting this topic and opening up the dialogue.
Feel free to edit my post if it does not read correctly.
Thanks!!

Sue Z
 
thanks for posting that very easy form- what a great idea to get the word out-
eBeth
 
Thank you for alerting me to such an incredibly flagrent abuse of our photos and work... I wrote immediately!!! I so wish there was more I could do!!
 
Thanks Claudine for making everyone aware of this issue. I posted a copy of what you had written and linked to your blog encouraging others to fill out that form too! I did! "They" can already so easily copy things, why hand it to em on a silver platter as well. This just peeves me off, and hopefully enough of us will respond and stop it. Thanks again for posting about.

-c
 
*sigh*
I have come to the realization that if you write it down and post anything here on line- anything is fair game whether or not it is the right thing to do- ethically that is.

People will always take and steal no matter what. I saw it happen in my college art classes even when they knew it was not right. Of course I corrected them... but it happens all the time.

So I just have decided to put it out there- and if someone is so impressed with the things I post- then so be it. I could always be super safe and never let any one see it and keep it all to myself. But how much fun would life be.

Laws or no laws... it sucks and people will always take take take.

Thank you for posting this... as always. You are FULL of info!!! I am always SO impressed with you.
(I truly stop by to catch up on whats going on- like the news!!! Seriously!!! heee!!!)

XxooxX
j a n e
 
Thanks for posting about this bill. I have sent a letter and am posting a message on my blog for everyone I know to send one as well. (I found you through Tim Holz's blog and appreciate the effort you are making to stop this bill!!!)
 
We have a saying here in Australia... "only in America"... and we all lament that we are becoming more "Americanised" everyday (LOL... I just hit spell check on that word... and it came up with "Americanized"... how ironic! ;))... not that I am anti-American... I promise... just, well you know, it would be nice for Australia to retain it's own uniqueness IYKWIM... Sadly, this issue is sure to raise it's ugly head here too in the not too distant future... so thanks so much for the heads up... and I will be posting links to you on my blog too.
 
Hi Claudine,

You are right about this being a very difficult subject to understand. I am not an artist, but I do post pictures of my family online. The thought of deliberate theft disturbs me greatly. My first reaction was panic, and I immediately sent the letters off to my congressmen....after that I did a search to see what else I could find on the subject. In my opinion this was the most informative link I have read thus far. http://maradydd.livejournal.com/374886.html

Take care!
 
I am shocked, thanks for bringing this up. Unfortunately I cannot be a part of the official protest as I am living in Denmark! I shudder at what is happening in our so called democratic world at the moment. Sooner or later the same issue will probably come up here.
 
Read the terms of service for the various free sites out there (Gmail, Yahoo mail, MySpace, Facebook, etc.). Pretty much every last one of them has a clause like (from Gmail), "

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence."

Most people don't know it, but they're already giving away the rights to their family photos....
 
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