Thursday, November 20, 2008

Orphan Works Update: House Recesses Until December

The lame duck session that started yesterday recessed abruptly this morning. Lawmakers plan to reconvene December 8th, subject to the Chair's discretion. We don't know how long they'll be in session when they return and economic developments could bring them back sooner.

We'll keep our eyes peeled, our ears open and update you when we learn more. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving, rest up and get ready for another bumpy ride. Thanks to all of you for your dedication and perseverance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Orphan Works Update: Congress has reconvened today.

They’re scheduled to be in session until Friday, although that could change. And although sponsors of the Orphan Works bill say publicly that it won’t come up, sources have told us they’ll try to use the lame duck session to pass it by means of another back room deal.

Currently the situation in Washington is fluid, but if deals are being made, they’ll be made before the bill is placed on the Suspensions calendar. Then they’ll try to pass it immediately. How we respond will depend on developments. But while we keep watch, consider this news from the National Journal, Nov. 12, 2008:

Conyers To Abolish IP Subcommittee On Judiciary Panel
by Andrew Noyes
“House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers will abolish the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property in the new Congress and instead keep intellectual property issues at the full committee level, a Judiciary aide told CongressDaily today.”
This is the subcommittee that spawned the Orphan Works Act and placed it on the “Rocket Docket.” Yet remember last spring, when those lobbying for this bill warned us that unless we accepted it - no matter how bad it was - that the next chairman of the Subcommittee would be a copyright foe and would pass a worse one? Well, now the Subcommittee itself won’t exist. So much for urging artists to bet against themselves!

This bill is very controversial. It would strip ordinary citizens of their intellectual property rights without due process. This is no way to pass legislation that would radically change US property laws. The bill can be fixed, but there is no time to fix it in a lame duck session. Stay tuned.