I was hoping to have a thoughtful and well-informed analysis of this situation for this post, but my personal schedule has made that difficult.
I can only say that this is about two pieces of legislation coming up before the House and Senate here in the U.S. that may adversely affect visual artists here (and those abroad who show or sell there work here), in terms of making it much more difficult to protect your work with copyright.
I will point you to more detailed information elsewhere and urge you to at least get an understanding of the issues.
Here is a description from the Illustrators Partnership of how the bills will affect visual artists:
The Illustrators Partnership has a series of form letters that you can send to your Representative or Senators by simply filling out a form and sending it. The system will even find your legislators by your zip code or address.
The letters themselves can give you some idea of the impact the bills will have on various aspects of the visual arts, as they are presented from the various points of view (illustrators, cartoonists, biomedical and scientific illustrators, photographers, etc.).
I’m not opposed to the original stated intention of the bills, to provide for the use by museums, libraries and other cultural institutions of works for which the copyright is no longer being actively defended; but the bills as they are worded don’t put the necessary definitions in place to restrict the provision to those kind of institutions and non-profit use, and go way beyond that into the creation of a bureaucratic nightmare for visual artists, who will now have to devote unreasonable time and resources to defending their art against opportunists, image thieves and copyright sharks.
The bills as they stand basically undermine many of the copyright protections we now enjoy and blithely take for granted. They need to be changed to protect those of us who don’t have the resources of Warner Brothers or Disney to constantly monitor use of our work with armies of lawyers.
Take a look. Be informed. Take a simple action.
I will only take a few minutes and it could save you hours of grief and countless dollars in the future.