I’ve got a “reported opinion” piece on the Orphan Works Act—a radical overhaul of Copyright As We Know It, brought to you by the The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombie Legislators—in the December issue of the graphic-design magazine Print.

Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford lawyer who launched the Creative Commons movement and who thinks deeply about copyright (and who, be it said, I interviewed for this article), gave it a little shout-out here.

If the subject of copyright law doesn’t exactly blow your skirt up, hark to my words:

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lose everything you’ve ever done.” That’s Brad Holland, from a recent interview with business consultant Mark Simon. Holland, a legend among illustrators and co-founder of the advocacy group The Illustrators’ Partnership of America, was referring to the Orphan Works Act (OWA), a proposed revision of copyright law that the IPA—and the more than 60 other organizations that have joined its cause—believe will have a catastrophic effect on artists. On the fast track for a vote in both houses of Congress, H.R. 5889 (The Orphan Works Act of 2008) and S. 2913 (The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008) would open the door to “wide-scale infringements” of creators’ copyrights, according to a statement on the IPA’s website.
For most visual thinkers, the subject of copyright law is pure chloroform. Still, it matters as never before, so pull up a chair…

Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Alex Curtis, Brad Holland, and Hannibal Lecter all make cameo appearances in this thing.

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