Okay, I know I’ve been harping on this orphan works thing, but some people still don’t get how serious it is yet. So here’s just a taste of what’s to come in the future. Read this and this about an illustrator whose image was stolen by a large cigarette company and used to advertise cigarettes to kids. Read this about a blogger whose photo of her pet showed up on Fox TV, and this about a photographer whose image was used by cnet without permission. Read this about a guy whose photos were used by Real Time with Bill Mahr without his permission. Then read this Washington Post article about it happening to others.
Some of these infringements were willful, some an honest accident, blamed on the lowly intern (wink, wink). Regardless, this is just a taste of what is to come.
As scary as that is, it’s nothing compared to this. Websites like Google and Flickr are removing metadata—hidden data within the digital file that includes the creator’s name, contact info, and copyright info among other things—from digital files. Yikes! These are two companies that stand to benefit financially from orphaned works, and they are willfully orphaning works by removing this information. This is a recipe for wholesale theft!
If you have not already done so, go to Orphan Works Opposition Headquarters and read more there. Sign their petition and write your congressional leaders using the form letters. Some of them are starting to get the message but they need to hear from YOU.