I wasn't sure if I captured the overall shape and attitude of the trunk & branches in this tree, so included is a close-up of some leaves. The tree itself isn't all that tall, maybe only about 3 metres or so. If you're a flora expert but still can't recognize it, then just chalk it up to my poor tree drawing skills. And besides, I don't know what it is myself so it's not like I can judge you.
Orphan Works Act
So there's some proposed new copyright legislation brewing in the US. It doesn't really sound like a very good thing to me.
The basic idea behind the Orphaned Works Act seems to be that works found without attribution may be scooped up by commercial entities and re-used, re-sold and so on. i.e., works that aren't properly registered automatically fall into the public domain. It seems a bit hazy on what would constitute an "official copyright registration database", but basically, they're trying to remove the automatic legal protection an artist gets as soon as they produce something.
This doesn't seem to be something that will benefit the independent artist. Large intellectual property factories like Disney et al., will of course have the resources to ensure everything they produce is watermarked, copyrighted, registered (and DRM'ed etc.)
Stock image companies stand to benefit by scraping the net for unattributed works, or works that have had their copyright notices erased. The cost of stock art will go down even more, and artists producing commissioned work will be squeezed to cut prices even more. Registration services will glady take protection money from content creators, introducing yet another cost for the aspiring artist.
Reduce the length of copyright by half? Sounds fine to me. Reduce the criminal charges and fines for personal file-sharing? Sure, it's not like rape or murder.
But this new system will only result in much of the art you see online being heavily watermarked (have a look at a stock image company website for example) so it can't easily be removed, and/or low-quality so it can't be reprinted or re-sold without the artist's participation. Worst case, artists will be dissuaded from putting their work online at all. If all you get for your trouble is ripped off by some opportunist stock image company, publisher or advertiser, why bother?
I think the main reason that sites like Flickr, DeviantArt, creative writing sites and even Scoop sites have been successful and have attracted so many creative people to put high quality work online to be seen freely by all, is because of the automatic protection from exploitation that current copyright laws provide. Contrary to what copyleftists thought 8-10 years ago, the younger generation of creators has a very strong sense of ownership of their work. Sites like DA and Flickr are self-policed more than they are by staff (and with the number of people using them, it couldn't work otherwise.)
I'm pretty sure this proposed new act would only benefit the companies that exploit artists, rather than artists themselves, and will serve to diminish the quality and quantity of non-commercial creative works put online. At the same time, it will push artists toward corporations with the resources to provide legal protection, and away from pursuing an independent creative vision. I hope it goes nowhere and dies a quick death.
|< Sexism and Racism | Five minutes >|