Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is a registry needed when there is no Orphan Works Act?

A recent email blast from a photo trade association questioned the underlying value of the need for a registry service. Is a registry actually needed at this time when the Orphan Works Act has not even passed yet? (see reply in comments)

1 comment:

  1. Some argue that no registries are needed until the Orphan Works Act (OWA) passes in America. It’s worth noting that the USA is fairly unusual in that copyright registration is a governmental process (handled by the U.S. Copyright Office). Many countries, such as England for example, have had commercial copyright registration services for many years.

    The better question, then, is whether creators need the specific services offered by The Copyright Registry?

    In two clicks of the mouse, The Copyright Registry can find the creator directly from their image (or music or video) at any web site in the world, regardless of language or country, even if that image has no IPTC/File Info, copyright notice or creator credit line associated with it … provided that the image file has been reclaimed by the photographer in The Copyright Registry. Would that benefit photographers? Is there a need for that? We believe so. There are legitimate picture researchers, international publications and art buyers who “Google for images” right now.

    In the opposite direction, is there value to creators today in knowing the web sites that are using duplicates of their photos or other creative works? Or, should one wait for OWA to pass before finding out who is using your images? We believe learning who’s using your images can translate to revenue for the photographer (who, by the way, directly invoices and keeps 100% with this registry).

    It’s true that the Orphan Works Act is going to be a game changer. The rules are going to flip 180 degrees when OWA passes. Billions of image, music and video files that have been posted online or duplicated without proper credit will suddenly need to be found and “reclaimed” by their creators for fear they could somehow be considered “orphaned” under a new law. It will be a massive and ongoing task for creators to associate their contact information with all those content files that are already online.

    Why wait for the law to pass before taking action? Why not get started now with a mostly free service that offers the added benefits of not only finding creators, but also finding the URLs of Use of one’s creative works?