Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My first post, and I think it's rather important

I've never used Blogspot before, so I don't really know it's basic in and outs. I don't have a new and awesome picture to post at the moment, I don't know if it uses cuts like LJ does, hey, maybe someone can teach me later.
The point is, since everyone who's gonna be reading this is going to be an Alabama artist, I want to make sure the word gets out as much as possible to those who might not have already known. I sure as heck didn't.
This is mostly a copy/paste from what I wrote in my own LiveJournal, except I'll edit it some for language since I don't really know Chris feels about so many obscenities in his Jam blog.

There are many things in this world I love.
I love my wife, Brandi.
I love wrestling.
I love music.

But those are all things... Brandi's not gonna leave me, and even if she ever did, she still will have been my wife. The WWE is always (presumably) going to be here, and even after I quit wrestling, I'm gonna have the memories of doing it and no one else will ever go and be my character I played in the ring. Who'd want to be? I don't have any actual songs of my own and unless someone punctures my eardrums, there's no way to take music away from me. I know who sings these songs... you can't claim they're yours.

But if someone were to take my art away from me? What I've been creating with my own mind and hands since I was just a baby? Maybe the one... maybe the only possible thing that I can create and use to possibly make a living? And the government is trying to pass a bill which would make it possible so that someone would be able to take those creations of mine, take them and do whatever they want to with them, call them their own, make money off of MY creation?!? What the hell is going on?!?

It's the Orphan Works Act of 2006 (which is too damn long to read, but take a look eventually), and it's still not passed. The problem is that it might. If you're an artist, of ANY type, if you know any artists of any type, meaning photographer, painter, musician, etc, you need to pay attention. This is SERIOUS news and I feel STUPID (stupider than usual) for not knowing about it earlier.
If you read the webcomic PVP by Scott Kurtz, then you might have already seen this. If you don't, then you need to start. They talk mostly about what'll happen to comics and cartoonists in this podcast, for a few details, you can click here to hear his take on the ordeal.
If you don't wanna listen right now, the long and short of it is: The bill was created for the simple fact that too many pieces of historical art exist. Museums and whatnot want them, but there are no people who own legal copyrights and shit like that. It might as well be Public Domain. SO, this bill was created, the problem was that it's too broadly written, and it states that if you find a piece of work and you make an effort to find it's rightful owner and you cannot, then you can GO AHEAD AND USE IT.

That's not all. If the true owner steps forward and says, "Hey, this is my work, my property, I own it, here's proof." Well, that's fine, right? You get your work back? WRONG!!! They pay you for use of your property ONCE. And it's theirs. They don't have to give you any money for the time they had it, no statutory damages, they don't have to pay over and over for recurring changes or anything else. One license and it's theirs to use however they want FOR-EV-ER.
This would all be better if it would have been passed as the Public Domain Enhancement Act which was brought up in 2003 and 2005 but shot down. What would've happened would've simply been all those old works which no one could find proper owners? Would simply pass into an "enhanced" version of the Public Domain and from there could be bought outright. Instead, two new bills have been brought forth (one before the House and one before the Senate) and could feasibly RUIN the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of American citizens who try and earn a living with their creative properties.

I don't own Akira, or Tetsuo or Kanaeda. Hell, this drawing isn't even original, I saw one like it in Wizard Magazine by Joe Madureria. The point is I drew this one. I don't claim the work as mine.
I don't own Carrie, or any of the other girls I've ever made art models or ever will make art models for that matter. She just gave me permission to use the photo and the subsequent art how I choose. That picture is mine forever, and it's also hers because it's of her. That's an instance where people could be co-owners and therefore, I suppose, co-copyright holders if need be.
However, I OWN Sunrise Studios. I own WeezeL, WeezeL Brand Comics, and all the characters that will eventually go into WeezeL Brand Comics. The names and logos aren't registered yet, but the fact remains that the way current copyright law works, the very SECOND you finish a fixed work, whether you register it with the Library of Congress for $35 or not, you own that intellectual property. It is yours forever and to keep it safe, date it, seal it up, mail it to yourself, it has a post date on it (you have no idea how many times I've done this).

If you've read all that other shit and any of the links I gave you, then one has to wonder if this bill is passed, how could anyone keep their own work to themselves anymore? Get this: The bill calls for two separate registries to run as privately run databases... like on the internet. You will be charged... and you will have to register EVERYTHING you've EVER created and ever WILL create to keep them safe. And if you think for a second they won't be commercial properties? Keep dreamin'. Just imagine if you have to pay the same thirty five dollars per upload at YouTube or PhotoBucket like you do to register a copyright with the Library of Congress. Interesting sidenote: within two weeks of the bill being brought before congress, all the domain names having to do with "Orphan Works" were bought up by commercial properties.

I've been working all day on trying to find all the right words to put into this rant. To be honest, I'm not sure what else I can do, but as I told another friend today, sitting here and bitching isn't going to help anything. This is just the first step, I have to be proactive about this, moreso than anything else ever before and do whatever I possibly can to make sure this bill is not passed. If it weren't summer, I'd go to the University art and music departments and get students to sign petitions and send them to my congressman. I'll stoop to hippie protest levels if I have to.
I read on some other website while studying up... someone said something to the effect of, "Can't you see the irony? A generation of loser artists crying about their work being stolen after they've illegally downloaded and ripped and shared music that doesn't belong to them?"
What an ignorant idiot.
Sure, I can go to iMeem and listen to music, and most of it will be the entire song for free. I can even upload some songs they don't have. But the artists and record labels get profits for that. And if I do download songs I don't have from a file sharing service? It's exactly like I said at the beginning of this rant: people know who sings those songs. I can't GO anywhere and claim those songs are MINE. I won't be able to make a profit off of those songs. Those musicians and record labels will still make a profit, even if it has dwindled slightly due to internet file sharing. He has a bit of a point since it's about thievery, but it's basically moot. It's like thievery of apples and oranges.
So now I don't know what else I can tell you. If I think of more, I will, believe that. If I can figure out a way to tell others, I will. If I have to pass out fliers at Dragon*Con, you bet your ass I will. In the meantime, learn what you can from here: The Illustrators Partnership of America, where they give information on writing to your elected officials and they have form letters and telling them this bill sucks whether you're an artist, a painter, a writer, a musician, a photographer... all kinds of shit.
Then, directly from Scott Kurtz' podcast:
-- It undermines the 1976 Copyright Act [basically the Free Use Act] which makes it impossible to protect my work
-- I'll be forced to register my work at a greater expense to myself on a commercially run database
-- It eliminates my ability to sue for statutory damages, if any
-- It allows others to profit from my original work
Finally, here's a link to a download of a TXT document from a form letter that I took from bits and pieces of others, and it's basically what I plan on taking and trying to make into a protest. I just took their words and threw in a few paragraphs from other forms, changed one thing from here to there, added a few of my own, yadda yadda. All I'm saying is that if ENOUGH OF US DO SOMETHING, then maybe for once, the little person's voice will be heard.


Chris_Garrison said...

Yeah, that's a worrisome issue for all us artist-types. Thanks for bringing it to light here.

Mark Martin said...

It's one of those things that seems so outrageous, one is inclined to think SURELY the "big boys" (Disney, any large intellectual property owner) will have lobbies and influence and smack it down. But then again - better safe than sorry. It's a $#@#$% pain in the ass to have to waste valuable drawing time on political activism, especially for something so blatantly obvious and stupid. ARGH! Me hate squatters!!!

Tim Rocks said...

I haven't read the details, but I wonder if Disney or other large corporations might just pay the fees, if it gives them some sort of advantage over small independent creators?