current law protects a piece of art as soon as you create it. it is yours, and if anyone else wants to use it, they must do so with your permission. generally, if you paint a picture and someone puts it on a t-shirt, book, magazine, etc. to sell, they need to credit you and pay you (or create a mutual agreement). you own your piece, unless you sign a document that says otherwise.
however…in what appears to be its current form, this “orphan works” bill allows a “pass” for someone to publish (and exploit to financial gain) a visual work created by another artist without crediting or paying that artist for their work, as long as they have done their best to search out the original creator. they’re saying, “if you can’t find the creator, then the art is an ‘orphan’ and you can do what you like with it.” it seems to be a slight twist on the law that favors the publisher (or bootlegger), not the artist.
the law apparently puts emphasis on registering every work with the US copyright office, which to some may be a costly and time consuming process.
not sure what i think…what do you think?
here is an interview with (amazing artist) brad holland about it:
more documentation about the different phases in the evolution of the bill: