23rd May 2008

A message from the Baker fam…

I am emailing you today to ask you to oppose a current bit of legislation called the Orphan Works bill in our US congress that sounds innocent enough, but actually is a giant loophole for anyone, including megacorporations (Google is a huge backer of this bill), to profit big time without getting permission from or giving compensation to every visual artist/photographer that you know. It will reverse US copyright law as we know it.


Please go to this web site and click on “Contact your Senator in opposition to S.2913 NOW” and ” Contact your Congressman in opposition to H.R. 5889 NOW”. These links will automatically identify your senators and representatives by typing your zip code. it takes 30 seconds, honestly. 



Here’s an article in the Boston Herald that puts the Orphan Works bill in plain english. Its a real quick read. Also read the comments on this article which help explain a photographer’s point of view on this.


Unless you are for abolishing copyright and against the ability of visual artists to have income to live, please go to the links and email your congress representatives today. Do it!


Thanks and our love to everyone,


Dave and Alex


Here’s the photographer’s comments from the Boston Herald article that explains it much better than I have. Please read:


“I am a semi-retired photographer who has worked for close to 40 years producing work in some of the world\\\’s most troubled spots. My work documents many of the important issues of this time. Some were taken at risk to my life. The value of copyright is critical, as it protects the value of these images. That provides an income during my retirement and an estate for my family. Diminishing my rights, defined in Article 1 of the Constitution will have a severe economic impact on me. The problems of \\\”Orphan Works\\\” can be solved without destroying the protection I have now. Please don\\\’t take away the value of my life\\\’s work. Any new legislation must include appropriate protection for artists. The problems of museums can be addressed without, in effect, robbing me of protection. Any law, in a country such as ours, can be crafted in a way to use technology to resolve the issues without creating excess profits for huge new companies that will monitor my work. Leif Skoogfors”


“Mr. Skoogfors\’ comments are striking and evidence of the emotion that goes into creating. Everyone benefits from the creative community, it inspires and entertains, and enriches our society. Artists and photographers make sacrifices and devote their time to create, some even risk their lives in a effort to capture. The thought of Yahoo or Microsoft, Google, Picscout, Flickr or whoever coming along and taking this away from the rightful owners is abhorent. If artists/photographers/writers loose their creations, they can\’t support themselves. All of the \”supposed\” outcry to keep art from being lost? Its just coming from huge companies that want to be able to sell the fruits of other\’s labors in order to make themselves rich at the creator\’s expense- and as for the libraries? museums? they exist to preserve things that have VALUE. If these creative objects have value, then why should they be any less \’REAL\’ property than our cars or homes and why should their ownership be any less protected? The Canadian model should show that the \”orphanage\” can be a very small place and needn\’t include all art. Since 1990, there have only been a few hundred \”orphans\” - because there is a fee held in escrow and a board that must determine if the work is really unattributable. There are already large sites devoted to profiting from the infringers - the infringer posts, the big web site splits the money with the infringer, and if caught, the big web site is off the hook. The best the artist or photographer can hope for is to have their artwork removed. (I just contacted a fellow artist today regarding one such usage on \”photobucket.com\” and could have contacted at least a dozen more if I had had time) Removing the penalties will just create a larger market for those that wish to profit unfairly.”