[drn-discuss] illustrators argue against orphan works proposal

rufus.pollock at okfn.org rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Sun Mar 20 10:38:50 PST 2005

Thought this might interest the list for its illustration of one of the
standard reactions by artists' groups to attempts to amend/reduce
copyright (in this case the orphan works proposal in the US). We need to think carefully how to address such concerns and demonstrate that such proposals, be it CC, term reduction, registration requirements, etc are not 'anti-artist'.




On Mar 17, 2005, at 4:57 AM, Felix Sockwell wrote:

>your weekly update:
>Felix Sockwell
>22 Girard Pl
>Maplewood NJ
>917 657 8880
>Begin forwarded message:
>>From: IllustratorsPartnership <IllustratorsPartnership at cnymail.com>
>>Date: March 17, 2005 2:36:39 PM EST
>>To: Illustrators.II at rrcs-mta-01.hrndva.rr.com
>>Subject: Culture Doesn't Grow On Trees
>> Thanks to everyone who's signed our letter to the Copyright Office  
>>regarding the Orphaned Works study. We've received over 600  
>>signatures in the first few days, with more coming in. Many artists  
>>have included personal responses. We'd like to share this one with  
>>you because it makes this rather abstract issue concrete. It comes  
>>from legendary artist Neal Adams, and we're sending it to you with  
>>his permission.
>> March 15, 2005
>> Illustrator's Partnership
>> Gentlemen,
>> Re: Orphaned Works Legislation.
>> Let us suppose you wish to conspire with me to rip off a body of  
>>work, normally protected by the copyright law, into the Orphaned  
>>Works definition. Let us suppose this work was created by an artist  
>>who is in his declining years and whose family overlooks him and his  
>>rights with a casualness your children may show to you as you grow  
>> Our aging artist does not pour over the Internet daily. In fact, the  
>>Internet is not a tool of his generation. He rarely goes to  
>>bookstores, though he reads the newspaper daily, watches TV and  
>>listens to radio and even plays golf, goes to movies and makes love  
>>to the widow down the block.
>> You and I wish to take advantage of the "old" popularity of his  
>>work. In a renaissance of exploitation of his work we do not wish to  
>>dig up this "old man" and share with him, but simply, we wish to  
>>profit by his work.
>> So first we explore the Internet. We produce signature tags or  
>>"tubes" or jpegs or gifs. We produce prints and publications to sell  
>>on the Internet. Then we do a classy book and include his work  
>>without featuring his name and his life's body of work will become  
>>ours. Good plan? The question we should be asking is why do we have  
>>copyright protection in our law? Or more importantly, if I own it,  
>>why do you take my ownership away? Is it because I'm older than you  
>>and because that is so, I don't deserve "rights" like you?
>> Why not come into my house when I'm out and give away my furniture  
>>or take it yourself? Gentlemen, an artist has only this, his work,  
>>and the rights to his work. He has nothing else.
>> I fought for the rights of Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe  
>>Schuster. Others made millions while Superman's creators lived in  
>>near poverty. Jerry was a clerk and Joe was a legally blind man who  
>>lived in his brother's apartment, slept on a cot and worked as a  
>>messenger. I met and fought for their small remaining rights when  
>>they both turned only 60 years old. Not "old" by any definition.
>> The battle took months and the settlement was meager, but it let the  
>>men live the remaining years of their lives with dignity. You know  
>>what they cared about most? They cared about having their names, once  
>>again, associated with their character, Superman! Why? Because it was  
>>what they were as people. They were their work.
>> Why do we have copyright law? Because we wish to protect people and  
>>their creations, even if they are "hard to locate." Please maintain  
>>copyright protection and don't contribute to rotting us from the  
>> Sincerely,
>> Neal Adams
>> Thanks to Neal for his great letter and the permission to use it.  
>>It's an eloquent, if sad, commentary on the importance of continued,  
>>if not stronger, copyright protections.
>> If you haven't yet signed the "Orphan Works" letter Neal refers to,  
>>we hope you'll do so within the next seven days. The promoters of  
>>Free Culture are trying to portray copyright as a means by which big  
>>business "locks down" creativity and keeps the public from the  
>>culture it's "entitled" to. We want to remind lawmakers that culture  
>>doesn't grow on trees for lawyers to harvest.
>> While we can reach only a fraction of all the artists who would be  
>>hurt by progressive copyright erosions, we can be the representative  
>>fraction that speaks out, stating the case for those who (shall we  
>>say) "can't be located." If you wish to join us in signing the Orphan  
>>Works letter, please reply by e-mail no later than March 24 to  
>>info at illustratorspartnership.org  
>><mailto:info at illustratorspartnership.org> .
>> In addition to your name, you may also add your expertise:  
>>commercial or editorial illustrator, cartoonist, architectural  
>>illustrator, dimensional illustrator, medical illustrator, painter,  
>>artist's representative, etc. You may also add any professional  
>> With Kind Regards,
>> Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Illustrators Partnership of  
>>You can view the Submission letter and the current signatures at the  
>>Town Hall public forums at:
>> For more about this issue, visit:  
>> (see "Free Culture/The Copy Left is Not Right" and "Add Your Name  
>>-Orphan Works Study.") ?
>> This letter may be posted or forwarded in its entirety to any  
>>interested parties.
>> __________________________________________________________
>> The IPA's Town Hall is an open forum available to the visual arts  
>> for ongoing discussions about the industry. You do not need to be a  
>> of the IPA to read or post in the Town Hall public forums.  
>>First-time users will
>> be asked to register to gain access to the forums.
Colin Mutchler
activefreemedia creates a virtual community of people and organizations  
that use money, media, and technology to build a sustainable culture  
and economy of responsibility and freedom.

Listen Up! is a youth media network that connects young producers and  
their allies to resources, support, and projects to develop the field  
and achieve an authentic youth voice in the mass media.

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