Copyright and Orphan Works Act of 2008

Dear Artistic Community,

By now you must have heard about the Orphan works bill to eliminate the current workings of copyright laws. If not please take an interest as it will effect any image creator. I've asked the permission of Cheryl Phelps to post her e-mail. I met Cheryl back in 2001 at ICON and had the pleasure of having her as one of our instructors in the Masters class for the Business of Illustration course. Please read it and follow the links to mail the appropriate politician.

Heidi Younger
Hi All,

I'm encouraging all of you to write your legislators about this very
important issue.

There are two bills going through committee hearings before they go to
a full House and Senate vote. We have to oppose these bills by writing
to express our opinion of how it will affect our careers.

The bills are:
H.R. 5889 - The Orphan Works Act of 2008 and
S. 2913- The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008

You can easily go to http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/home
to the letter for "From the Perspective of the Art Licensing
Business" and edit your letter to tell your own story. The letters on
the site will be sent to your states legislators based on your zip

You can also fax or snail mail letters to your States legislators too.
And, you can find out their contact addresses and info at:

Here is an example of a letter I just sent.
I give my permission if you want to use parts of my letter in your letter.
Change the legislator, your name and title info.
Please take the time to let your voice be heard and write your legislators now.
My Letter:
Dear Senator Charles Schumer, (My Senator- you'd add yours here)

My name is Cheryl Phelps and I am an Art Licensor, Art Licensing
Consultant and Adjunct Professor at School of Visual Arts and FIT. I
specialize in the Greeting Card, Gift and Publishing Industry. Most of
my clients are manufacturers of products on paper, gifts and books.
They all have one thing in common: they license art to put on their products.

I have been a freelance, self employed Illustrator, Designer and Art
Licensor for over 20 years. The "Orphan Works" legislation will
greatly impact my own career as well as the careers of every Artist I
know, teach and coach.

I’m extremely concerned about the devastating consequences two pending
bills (H.R. 5889 - The Orphan Works Act of 2008 and S. 2913- The Shawn
Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008) will have on the entire art
licensing industry.

I count on the mutually favorable licensing contracts I make with
companies that honestly license my artwork for use on their products.
These are agreements that I enter into when we have both decided my
work is great for their product and their product is a good fit with
my art brand.

This legislation sets about the potential to be forced to make
licensing agreements with possible companies I never would have
chosen to make such deals with.

In addition to limiting compensation to "reasonable fees" the impact
of allowing an infringer to make derivatives of our work and continue
selling them in the marketplace totally depletes our own art brands.
The very essence of what makes us each unique and marketable can be
copied and sold without just consequence.

The law instead of providing us a sound legal remedy gives the
infringer the upper hand. Legitimate companies know where to find us,
there are trade shows, source books, web sites to acquire our art
from. Why on Earth would I want to establish a contractual agreement
for "reasonable fees" with a company who has infringed first, then
tries to cut a deal only when caught?

How can I ever expect this manner of transaction could result in
honest accounting and long term payment of royalties?

As an educator I can understand libraries and museums needing "Fair
Use" access to my images. But, as an artist I will never agree that a
potential infringer be given any easy out for using my work without my
written permission. I wholeheartedly oppose the Orphan Works bill and
I encourage you to oppose the bills as well.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Best Regards,
Cheryl Phelps


Cheryl Phelps said...

Thanks Heidi for posting my letter on your blog and spreading the word about writing legislators to oppose the Orphan Works Bill.

Heidi Younger Illustration said...

I've heard it referred to as "herding cats" to unite the artistic community... let's prove them wrong.

sheree said...

hey heidi,

i never heard the "herding cats" line - kinda funny really.

i sent the emails, but i think i will send some snail mails as well - i sometimes wonder if the govt. gives a crap anymore about "we the american people"

if this passes artists wages will go from second world to third world - it's not like we were ever high up on the totem pole like those in govt. with their nice pensions etc...or like all those wall street gangsters--- i could go on :(