On Friday the Senate passed the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act and forwarded it on to the House of Representatives. I thought these guys and gals had other, more pressing matters to keep them busy! Unless there is a widespread and overwhelming grass-roots message from photographers and visual artists to prevent the house from passing it, our real copyright protections on our images will be eviscerated.
This is from a letter written to legislators by National Press Photographers Association President Bob Carey:
“According to the language of the bill, even if held liable for copyright infringement “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 to the owner of the exclusive right under the infringed copyright for the use of the infringed work.” The bill defines the term “reasonable compensation” to mean: “with respect to a claim of infringement, the amount on which a willing buyer and willing seller in the positions of the infringer and the owner of the infringed copyright would have agreed with respect to the infringing use of the work immediately before the infringement began.”
“To make matters even worse, the legislation goes on to state that “an order requiring the infringer to pay reasonable compensation for the use of the infringed work may not be made … if the infringer is a nonprofit educational institution, museum, library, archives, or a public broadcasting entity, or any of such entities’ employees acting within the scope of their employment, and the infringer proves by a preponderance of the evidence that: (i) the infringement was performed without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage; (ii) the infringement was primarily educational, religious, or charitable in nature; and (iii) after receiving a notice of claim of infringement, and having an opportunity to conduct an expeditious good faith investigation of the claim, the infringer promptly ceased the infringement.”
“Organizations – such as the American Library Association – have been bombarding Congress in support of this legislation. It is essential that creative professionals do the same. This is not to time to be complacent!”
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