Orphan Works Passed in Senate

September 27th, 2008 | Posted in News

Used with permission

If you ever needed any solid proof that politicians in this country are a bunch of sleazy, special interest catering con artists, here you go:

Yesterday, with the country in the most dire economic crisis in almost 100 years and a 700 billion dollar bailout or some other form of action desperately needing to be hammered out and put into action, the U.S. Senate passed the Orphan Works Act via a process known as “hotlining”. I guess the economy can just wait.

“Hotlining” is a shady practice that was originally designed for quickly passing noncontroversial bills or simple motions, but has been twisted in recent years to pass significant legislation under the radar, avoiding almost any debate. When “Hotlining” the “Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader must agree to pass it by unanimous consent, without a roll-call vote.¬¨‚Ć The two leaders then inform Members of this agreement using special hotlines installed in each office and give Members a specified amount of time to¬¨‚Ć object … in some cases as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill is passed”-from Open House Project

The House still needs to pass something and it might just drop their version of the bill and pass the senate version.

It is inconceivable to me that with the economic crisis on the table our esteemed political leaders would bother with ANY other legislation AT ALL. Here’s what the Illustrator’s Partnership has to say about what to do now:


Orphan Works Opposition: Plan B

SEPT 27-  Yesterday, in a cynical move, the sponsors of the Senate Orphan Works Act passed their controversial bill by a controversial practice known as hotlining.

With lawmakers scrambling to raise 700 billion dollars to bail out businesses that are “too big to fail,” the Senate passed a bill that would force small copyright holders to subsidize big internet interests such as Google, which has already said it plans to use millions of the images this bill will orphan.

With the meltdown on Wall Street, this is no time for Congress to concentrate our nation’s copyright wealth in the hands of a few privately owned corporate databases. The contents of these databases would be more valuable than secure banking information. Yet this bill would compel creators to risk their own intellectual property to supply content to these corporate business models. That means it would be our assets at risk in the event of their failure or mismanagement.

As David Rhodes, President of the School of Visual Arts has said, the Orphan Works bill would socialize the expense of copyright protection while privatizing the profit of creative endeavors. Copyright owners neither want nor need this legislation. It will do great harm to small businesses. We already have a banking crisis. Congress should not lay the groundwork for a copyright crisis.

–Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Illustrators’ Partnership


We MUST try to stop the House Judiciary Committee from folding their bill (HR5889) and adopting the Senate version.

If you’ve done it before, do it again!

It takes only a minute to use our new special letter.
Click on the link below, enter your zip code, and take the next steps.
Thanks to all of  you who heeded the call to action yesterday.



For ongoing developments, go to the Illustrators’ Partnership Orphan Works blog: http://ipaorphanworks.blogspot.com/

Over 70 organizations oppose this bill, representing over half a million creators. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.

The Capwiz site is open to professional creators and any member of the image-making public.  International artists will find a special link, with a sample letter and instructions as to whom to write.

If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at: illustratorspartnership@cnymail.com Place “Add Name” in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area.

Please post or forward this email to any interested party.


  1. Michael Garisek says:

    OMG unfriggin believable

  2. Dan says:

    Tom, I would love to spread the word about this at my college of arts. Its incredible to me that I don’t have any professors/artists that have even breathed a word of this on campus. I would like to make a poster or such to hang on walls to get the word out. Is there anyway (since you are a well studied PROFESSIONAL artist) you know more then most and how it would effect us yet to become professionals so is there anyway you can maybe email me or respond to this and give me the main bullet points that you think are the most crucial about the legislation?

    If possible that would be great, I’d like to get these out ASAP. Thanks.

  3. mengblom says:

    I think Congress, in some perverse way, actually loves it when a big, attention-grabbing crises hits so they can use the tricky rules and procedures to simply flush stuff they just want out of there.

    What’s the opposite of “progress”? “Congress”!

  4. Mike Lynch says:

    Thanks for this, Tom. Just wretched news. I’m posting a link to your blog over at my blog.

    Dan, I’m hopeful you can spread the word at your college. It’s a shame that they do not know about it.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: