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Deadline Looming for Comments on Changes to Copyright Law

by Deb Shaw

There is an imminent deadline this week, Thursday, October 1, 2015, for artists (and the public) to make “reply comments” to the Copyright Office regarding the return of Orphan Works legislation.

If you are concerned your ability as an artist to make a living and retain copyright ownership of your art, it is important to understand the proposed changes to copyright law. More than 2600 letters were written and filed during the initial comment period for the proposed changes—the majority by artists concerned about or against the proposed changes to copyright. These are the final two days to add your voice.

The following is from the Illustrators’ Partnership: read some of the letters written or write a first letter for yourself (in case you missed the initial opportunity), or comment on points made by others. It is important to become informed and participate.


From the Illustrators Partnership: Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership

We want to thank all of you who wrote to the Copyright Office several weeks ago regarding the return of Orphan Works legislation. The Copyright Office received nearly 2,600 letters, an unprecedented response.

Nearly all are from artists protesting the draft legislation proposed to Congress in June.

To put our response in context, orphan works legislation has been based on fewer than 215 letters sent to the Copyright Office in 2005. That means our initial response trumped those total comments by a factor of 10.

The letters have been posted here: You may find accessing the full set of comments in this PDF a bit of a challenge. See these instructions if you have problems.

Now the next step will be to write “reply comments.” We hope everyone will take the opportunity to write again.

A “reply comment” can take any form you’d like. We’d suggest 1 of 2 ways: 1. Take one or more comments you agree with and say that you agree. 2. Take one or more comments you disagree with and explain why you disagree.

We invite you to consider endorsing the letter submitted by the Illustrators Partnership. It’s key sentence reads:

“Because Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution grants authors the exclusive rights to their work, it is our understanding that those rights cannot be abridged without a constitutional amendment.”

The full letter can be found in Document #1: Direct Initial Comments. It’s listed alphabetically under Illustrators Partnership.

Reply Comments are due October 1, 2015. American and foreign artists can both submit their letters online here:

Comments must be submitted using the comment submission form or they will not be considered part of the public record.

Please be advised:

“The Office intends to post the written comments and documentary evidence on its website in the form in which they are received. Parties should keep in mind that any private, confidential, or personally identifiable information appearing in their comment will be accessible to the public.”

Special note to foreign artists: If you are submitting from outside the US, under “State,” please scroll down to the bottom and select “Non U.S.A. Location.”

For those who didn’t write the first time, please don’t miss the opportunity to do so now. Please post or forward this artist alert to any interested party.

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