runaway 2.1

I'm gonna post the whole thing here, for anybody who failed to get it from PtoP. Click to embiggen.

I guess I'll add the ugly "©2008 Mark Martin" to it, since that stupid Orphan Works Bill is still being tossed about.


Jed said...

I'm not sure of the particulars, but my understanding--and I'm sure there's more to it--is that a person has to "make a reasonable effort" to find the creator of the work, according to the orphan works act. I think a lot of paranoid and inaccurate stuff has been floating around in regards to the thing, and though I'm sure its probably a good idea to slap on your copyright "C" on general principal, my guess is, putting it on your blog is proof of publication in itself.

Here's the gist:

"Our legislation permits the use of an orphan work only if the potential user performs and documents a good faith search for the copyright owner. If users cannot locate and contact copyright owners, they may use the orphan work. But if copyright owners later make themselves known, and if users have performed a search that qualifies under this legislation, owners are entitled to reasonable compensation. The user will not be liable for full statutory damages in those circumstances, but if a user does not perform that good faith search, the user will face up to $150,000 in statutory damages."

So the question comes down to: what's a "reasonable search", and what are "full statutory damages" as apposed to "reasonable compensation" and what's "reasonable compensation?'

This whole business has been discussed elsewhere and all over the place, but I still don't think most people are clear on what this really means, including me.

Then there's this part:

"Hundreds of thousands of so-called “orphan works” – works that may be protected by copyright, but whose owners cannot be indentified or located – are collecting dust. Despite tremendous interest in using these orphan works in new collections and new creations, they often languish unseen, because those who would like to bring them to light, and to the attention of the world, fear the prospect of prohibitively expensive statutory damages."

I think there's a point to be made here, and maybe the Orphan Works Act isn't the answer, but it would be nice if long out of print material that no one has laid claim to is allowed to see the light of day. Ken Steacy is a great example of someone who's doing this with legitimate orphaned works:

Which is how I first discovered Boris Artzybasheff, who is awesome and has almost nothing currently in print.

On the other hand, if someone claims to have made a "reasonable search" for the author of a work, can't find the author and then publishes their work, and the author discovers this fact and is then "reasonably compensated" the damage has already been done. The work has been appropriated and used in a way that the author hasn't sanctioned. But this kind of thing is inevitable once the author has kicked the bucket, no matter how unorphaned your work is--hence the recent bought of horrible Seuss estate sanctioned movies. And once orphaned, you get other atrocities, like everything horrible that has ever been done to Lewis Carroll.

Anyway, I think if you put your name on something, and someone didn't make the bare minimum effort to find you, For instance: Googling Mark Martin the cartoonist, then you have a fair argument against them and I'm sure are entitled to damages and the CBLDF will lbe glad to take up your cause.

But who knows? I've never been really careful about this sort of stuff, and maybe I should be. I always thought Web publication was proof enough that you own the thing. It would be ludicrous if you had to copyright every single doodle to prove ownership.

So, you know, if you have any info on this I'd be glad to hear it.

More stuff on the Orphan Works Act here:

When you can read about what Mr. Leahy thinks he's doing here.

HemlockMan said...

Ken Steacy! Thanks! That's the guy I've been trying to remember for months and months. One comic artist once described Steacy's work to me as "everything looks like a plastic airplane".

HemlockMan said...

Whoops! I take it back! That's NOT the guy I was thinking of.

So here I am...I still don't know!

HemlockMan said...

I take back that take back! It is Ken Steacy!

Mark Martin said...

Thanks for the input, Jed. I'm like you, vaguely interested but not paranoid. And always been pretty lax about diligently and ferociously protecting every single thing I scratch or utter. I think you can put so much effort into that sort of thing that you end up screwing yourself by spending time protecting potential value, rather than creating new value.

Sort of an example, but not really apples and apples: I spent measurable effort - not a LOT, but enough to waste some clockable hours - retreiving and storing and archiving and protecting film for my 20 Nude Dancers books when Tundra went out of business. And just recently I spent measurable time hauling it all down to the dump to get rid of it. I realized I'd never ever reprint those books as-is. And I have material to create a new improved collection, if I ever decide to and get around to it. So what was the point of hoarding and protecting that "heritage"? It was all just a pain in the ass that took up valuable storage space for years.

Not exactly a copyright issue, but kinda the same thing. I could spend tons of effort and go crazy meticulously making sure every single thing I ever do is perfectly copyrighted... or I could spend a little effort to get justice if anything is ever pirated by some clueless loser.

The thing to be paranoid about is what if by some ridiculously slim chance Fantagraphics sold Montgomery Wart to Pixar and made a cool million, and because of some loophole in the law M Wart was legally orphaned. Which is possible but come on... That's about as likely as the entire world financial system collapsing!

(H-man, I'm glad you got that straightened out!)