Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hotlining? Sneaky Bill Steals Artist Copyrighted Materials

Maybe I ought to start a third blog dealing with politcs and foreign affairs a conspiracy theories and what some politicans do behind the backs of their fellow citizens. I received a email from a friend in our local sketchclub (see links for it). I'm going to post it below and the reader can make up their own minds about it. In the interest of full disclosure, I went ahead and email my Congressional representitive about this. That link is included in the body of the text.

Email Start: While congress was supposedly busy with the banking bailout jazz this weekend, they found the time to rob all artists of our copyright law protection by hot-lining the ORPHAN WORKS act and passing it in congress. This is a bill funded by Google, Microsoft and several other search media corporations who intend to profit off this while making artists pay not only for EACH copyrighted work (that now is automatically done for FREE once its created, signed and dated) but we have to register for the privilege to use their search engines. This is just the beginning. Please read this email and help us do something about this.

-Will Terrell
Lubbock SketchClub

FROM ILLUSTRATORS ' PARTNERSHIP OF AMERICA: Orphan Works: The Devil's Own Day Never Too Busy to Pass Special Interest Legislation 9.28.08As lawmakers struggled Friday to clean up the mess on Wall Street, sponsors of the Orphan Works Act passed more special interest legislation. Their bill would force copyright holders to subsidize giant copyright databases run by giant internet firms. Like the companies now needing billion dollar bailouts, these copyright registries - which would theoretically contain the entire copyright wealth of the US - would presumably be "too big to fail." Yet it's our wealth, not theirs, the scheme would risk.

Small business owners didn't ask for this legislation. We don't want it and we don't need it. Our opposition numbers have been growing daily. So Friday, the bill's sponsors reached for the hotline.

What is Hotlining? Critics of hotlining say "that lawmakers are essentially signing off on legislation neither they nor their staff have ever read.""In order for a bill to be hotlined, the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader must agree to pass it by unanimous consent, without a roll-call vote. 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 object - in some cases as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill is passed."- Roll Call, Sept 17, 2007.

In other words, a Senate bill can pass by "unanimous consent" even if some Senators don't know about it. The Devil's Own Day Senators Leahy and Hatch hotlined the Orphan Works Act twice last summer. Each time came at the end of a day, at the end of a week, near the end of a legislative session. Each time lawmakers were distracted by other issues and other plans. Each time artists rallied quickly and each time a Senator put a hold on the bill. Friday the Senators found a new opportunity.

With lawmakers struggling to package a 700 billion dollar bailout to avert a world wide economic meltdown, with the rest of the country focused on Presidential debates, with Washington in chaos and Congressional phone lines jammed, they hotlined an amended bill. On short notice, even the legislative aides we could reach by phone said they didn't have time to read it. And so, while we were rushing to get out a second email blast to artists, the bill passed by "unanimous consent" - in other words, by default. What better way to pass a bill that was drafted in secret than to pass it while nobody's looking?

Since Friday, artists have been conducting bitter post mortems on their blogs. That's understandable, but it's not time yet.

"When Sherman arrived at Grant's headquarters later that evening, he found the general - broken sword and all - chewing on a soggy cigar in the rain, which had begun soaking the battlefield.

'Well, Grant,' Sherman said to his friend, 'we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?

''Yes,' replied Grant, 'lick 'em tomorrow, though.'"

The Senate passed their bill Friday, but the House hasn't.

There's still time to write, phone and fax your congressional representatives. Tell them not to let the House Judiciary Committee fold their bill and adopt the Senate's.Tell Congress to protect the private property of small businesses. Lick 'em tomorrow.

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' PartnershipQuote from "The Devil's Own Day," by Christopher Allen, January 2000 America's Civil War Magazine

Tell the House Judiciary Committee not to adopt the Senate version. We've supplied a special letter for this purpose: http://capwiz. com/illustratorspartnership/issues/alert/?alertid=11980321

Our Website!www.elSketchoClubo.com

Well - Thats the entire email so make your own choice.

UPDATE (October 2, 2008):
Thank you to everyone that contacted their congress persons about the Orphan Works act, I know several of you emailed me saying you had in spite of my broken link in the last email (my apologies). This is the 4th time they've tried to slip this bill into law without debate. This however, is the first time that it actually passed in the Senate. Fortunately, enough people protested that it died when the bill arrived in the House. Thanks again everyone. Its dead for now... but not necessarily indefinitely. Keep an eye out.-Will Terrell Lubbock SketchClub.

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