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Association of Medical Illustrators Denounces 'Orphan Works' Bills Before Congress
Date:6/3/2008

Organization asserts passage would strip illustrators of essential rights

and devastate profession with loopholes for educational nonprofits

LAWRENCE, Kan., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) (http://www.ami.org), an international organization representing highly trained professional medical illustrators and animators, is slamming proposed legislation known as "The Orphan Works Act of 2008" (H.R. 5889/S. 2913), pending in the House and Senate. An "orphan work" is a creative work, visual or otherwise, whose copyright status and ownership cannot be readily found. Proponents want to use works declared "orphans" without infringement liability.

"If this bill passes, it will radically restructure copyright protections currently guaranteed to creators by making it legal for anyone to use, reproduce and change a creator's painting, illustration or photograph -- without permission, fair or appropriate compensation, or proper legal remedy," says Michael Belknap, AMI's president. Currently copyright owners are guaranteed the exclusive right to reproduce their artwork, prepare derivative images from their original creations, and control how and where their work is used. The proposed legislation would subvert copyright protection by allowing anyone to declare a work an "orphan" and use it without infringement liabilities after engaging in a presumptive "diligent" search for the copyright owner. Neither bill defines what constitutes a "diligent" search.

"These bills are a recipe for legal chaos and have numerous large companies expecting to sweep up these 'orphaned' visual materials for free or for minimal payments to the owners and creators," says Bill Westwood, an AMI past president. "The bills will excuse thieves from any significant financial liability for such infringement and even allow them to make minor modifications and copyright the original artwork in their
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SOURCE Association of Medical Illustrators
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