The Return of Orphan Works
Part 1: “The Next Great Copyright Act”


For more than a year Congress has been holding hearings for the drafting of a brand new US Copyright Act. At its heart is the return of Orphan Works.

Twice, Orphan Works Acts have failed to pass Congress because of strong opposition from visual artists, spearheaded by the Illustrators Partnership.

Because of this, the Copyright Office has now issued a special call for letters regarding the role of visual art in the coming legislation.

Therefore we’re asking all artists concerned with

retaining the rights to their work to join us in writing.

When and Where
Deadline: July 23, 2015
You can submit letters online to the Copyright Office HERE.
Read the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry.
Read the 2015 Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report.

Join us and send your letter TODAY!

Here are the Basic Facts

“The Next Great Copyright Act” would replace all existing copyright law.


The demand for copyright “reform” has come from large Internet firms and the legal scholars allied with them. Their business models involve supplying the public with access to other people’s copyrighted work. Their problem has been how to do this legally and without paying artists.

The “reforms” they’ve proposed would allow them to stock their databases with our pictures. This would happen either by forcing us to hand over our images to them as registered works, or by harvesting unregistered works as orphans and copyrighting them in their own names as “derivative works.”

The Copyright Office acknowledges that this will cause special problems for visual artists but concludes that we should still be subject to orphan works law.

The “Next Great Copyright Act” would go further than previous Orphan Works Acts. The proposals under consideration include:

     1.) The Mass Digitization of our intellectual property by corporate interests.
     2.) Extended Collective Licensing, a form of socialized licensing that would replace  voluntary business agreements between artists and their clients.
     3.) A Copyright Small Claims Court to handle the flood of lawsuits expected to result  from orphan works infringements.

Join us and send your letter TODAY!

In your letter to the Copyright Office:

It’s important that lawmakers be told that our copyrights are our source of income because lobbyists and corporation lawyers have “testified” that once our work has been published it has virtually no further commercial value and should therefore be available for use by the public.

So when writing, please remember:

If you are NOT a professional artist:

1Receive Artist Alerts from Illustrators Partnerships

Updates for visual artists on copyright reform and 2015 Orphan Works draft legislation


Because this is a complicated issue, we’ll follow up next week with some expanded thoughts of our own. .

– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators Partnership

The Illustrators Partnership has filed multiple papers with the Copyright Office regarding this issue.

You can download them from the Copyright Office website:

Remedies for Small Copyright Claims
January 17, 2012

Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Initial Comments
February 3, 2013

Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
Reply Comments, March 6, 2013

Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
Additional Comments, May 21, 2014

Please post or forward this artists alert to any interested party.