May 12, 2008
An open letter to the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) are profoundly concerned with the current Orphan Works legislation now being considered by both houses of Congress. Our two groups are comprised of the creators of nearly every major newspaper comic strip and editorial cartoon, as well as many of the nation’s magazine, book, greeting card and comic book illustrators.
The legislation imposes new and onerous burdens on the current holders of copyrights to protect their work, while severely curtailing their ability to collect damages. It devalues their work in the marketplace and will open up a Pandora’s box of potential infringement scenarios, all while placing the burden for policing the marketplace on artists and authors.
We support the narrow goal of making truly orphaned works (that is, ones by deceased authors) available for use by museums and archivists. But proposed legislation is written so broadly that it will almost certainly unleash a torrent of mischief by unscrupulous infringers, with little to fear in the way of legal consequences.
Both the AAEC and NCS hope your committee will reconsider this dramatic erosion of current copyright protections.
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
The National Cartoonists Society