Not so fast

APA has posted about a new “registry” for copyrighted works. This seems to be a precursor to a potentially eventual searchable database to prevent one’s work from being labeled “orphan” for the purposes of an orphan works law.

First, there is no such law or even bill at this time, so don’t be getting your knickers in a twist. We don’t need this kind of registry yet and may, in fact, never need it.

Second, this registry has at least one sneaky clause in its contract. Here it is:

COLLECTIVE REPRESENTATION

YOU authorize The COPYRIGHT REGISTRY to represent INFORMATION, YOU and your CONTENT in collective bargaining for use of CONTENT by third parties and to execute licenses on your behalf for collective uses of CONTENT on terms to be determined by The COPYRIGHT REGISTRY at its sole discretion.

Now, I am not a lawyer yet, not even one-third of the way there yet (so I could definitely be wrong!!), but this clause looks like it’s saying that the site’s owners get to do your fee negotiating with any users of your content that you put on the site. They get to sell your work, in other words.

Hell no.

Actually, the more I read on the site, not just its contract terms, the more I do NOT like this site. It refers repeatedly to “The Orphan Works Act” like it’s a law. It’s not. In fact, there is no bill on it now even, as far as I know. Look at this quote from the site:

For many years, U.S. Copyright law has essentially said that anything you create is copyrighted by default at the moment of creation. You did not need to have your name on it. The Orphan Works Act modifies that. Under some circumstances, The Orphan Works Act lets anyone use your copyrighted work for free if they cannot find it”s owner (an “orphaned work”) and until you find their use and invoice them.

That’s nothing but scare tactics!!! Again, there IS NO ORPHAN WORKS ACT. You do not need to register anything (except your original copyright). This site does NOTHING for you in protecting your work as things stand today and for the foreseeable future.

So, stay away from c-registry.us (yes, I am NOT linking to them…I don’t want to help them get traffic).

11 Responses to “Not so fast”

  1. Dabitch Says:

    I’ve spread the word here; http://commercial-archive.com/content/if-copyright-infringement-poison-copyright-registry-contamination

  2. Joseph Pobereskin Says:

    I agree, there’s nothing like a good scare tactic to increase business. This guy wants to become a default stock agent but while he claims the right to negotiate on his curtomers’ behalf does he also spell out how he’s going to pay-out monies collected and on what schedule? Honestly, I’d rather (if I was forced into registering AGAIN, after registering with the Library of Congress) see Jim Pickerell revive his dormant http://www.chd.com (chd.com is short for copyright-holders-directory dot com). This new guy just smells fishy.

    My 2¢,

    JP

  3. Paul Morris Says:

    While there is no Orphan Works Act in place yet, by most accounts there will be in our lifetime. And when OW does pass there should already be a process in place to mitigate some of the damage that a bill may exert on image creators. Why close the door after the horse leaves the barn. Even absent any OW bill this service and others similar to it have value in tracking image use for creators and potential income from exercising ownership rights. Has anyone who is posting on this subject actually tried the service to see if it has value to them? ASMP has been working with the creators of C-Registy to modify the language that may be objectionable to image creators which they are very amenable to modifying and I know for a fact that they have good intentions and the highest integrity.

    Paul Morris
    Miami, Florida

  4. matthew pace Says:

    I think that someone needs to address them directly about this clause. I am reading the same thing here. It seems that there is something missing as in, what is the % and the terms of the negotiations, if they have reached that far yet.

    Also, if we believe that our works might end up “orphaned,” what would force the “finder” to go the extra miles in a multi search through clearing houses ( that will no doubt arise) to find the owner. As I understood it, a finder will have to do a “reasonable” search, and that keyword is hard to define.

    The true answer to all of it is to create a plugin of sorts that embeds permanently into any image, unable to strip out or an image shield that removes enough pixels from an image on any unauthorized download, like a sticky tape effect on fresh paint .

  5. info Says:

    Paul:

    Good intentions, which I have heard privately from others are truly here, aren’t apparent from the verbiage used on the site. The wording MUST be changed to be taken as a helpful OPTION rather than a fear-based necessity.

    I sincerely hope that if the owners of the service are the good people I am hearing about, they will change the copy on the site AND clarify some of the contractual terms.

    I have nothing against the service as a concept–just in how it is being presented.
    -Leslie

  6. Randy Taylor Says:

    Hi Leslie,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Let me start by saying that we do live web demos and phone Q&A weekly. We extend an open invitation to anyone who would like to see how C-Registry.us works. We also have an FAQ page that preemptively answers questions, including many of the ones that surfaced in the last 48 hours. We have been actively working to revise text at C-Registry to address new concerns about the service with some guidance from great trade associations, like the ASMP. We invite you and your readers to look around the site and let us know if there is anything we’ve missed that concerns you.

    With three decades in the industry, some of it creating tools like Keyword Compiler keywording program and the PLUS Media Matrix, I’m deeply rooted in the evolution and needs of the creative community. C-Registry is designed to help photographers defend against deterioration in the value of their copyright and the effects of the Orphan Works Act, which we believe will become law in at least one country this year.

    A few facts about C-Registry …

    – It is NOT possible to search it for orphaned works.

    – C-Registry does NOT store any images; NO images are uploaded.

    – C-Registry is FREE for professional photographers who are members of trade associations that support copyright.

    – From most any web site in any language anywhere in the world, each photographer’s contact information, an ecommerce link to their agency or sales page, and a link to their U.S. Copyright registration will appear to users of C-Registry when seeking an image’s owner.

    – Photographers can see the URLs where their images are being used.

    – Images that are claimed in C-Registry will NOT be added to StockPhotoFinder.com, as some irresponsible rumors are claiming. (StockPhotoFinder searches over 4 billion images via 100,000 web pages. It doesn’t need any more images.)

    The Terms & Conditions at C-Registry have several clauses that nobody talks about. These should interest photographers, and they speak volumes about our intentions. As a condition of site access, users agree:

    “… to be bound by international and United States copyright laws, including but not limited to the International Berne Copyright Convention, the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act, and The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Of 1998 (“Copyright Law”).”

    That users “may be authorized to use CONTENT to the extent permitted by the copyright holder provided that terms of the copyright holder have been met …”

    That users “will pay a reasonable licensing fee for [the] use or publication of A Work Of Unknown Origin, negotiated in good faith, should the rightsholder of that CONTENT become known to [the user] during or after use or publication.”

    “If the CONTENT is A Work Of Unknown Origin used editorially, [its] use or publication should bear a credit line that indicates the creator name if reasonably known or source of the CONTENT if reasonably known.”

    “Any Use by [the user] of The COPYRIGHT REGISTRY does not and will not violate or encourage violation of any applicable laws, regulations, code of conduct, or third party rights (including without limitation intellectual property rights).”

    We do not believe these terms of use should scare photographers. Instead, they should scare infringers!

    Everyone needs to judge for themselves. We invite everyone to read what’s at our site, arrange for a demo, ask questions, then decide.

    Thank you for the opportunity to reply.

    all the best,

    Randy Taylor
    C-Registry.us

  7. info Says:

    Randy:

    I hope that this is all just a case of poorly written copy and contracts, as I mentioned before. I do not, however, think your response of “but look at the good things” holds any value as a counter-argument. Stay on the issue of the areas on which I have written, and I will be happy to continue the dialogue.

    Also, offering a demo is not on point. The language in question is the issue and a demo will do nothing for that. Look, it is not a question of what the service claims to do–it is a question of the actual words used. Language is crucial. You can, as they say, get more flies with honey, so why not just rewrite things to make your targets (photographers) more comfortable? –Leslie

  8. Randy Taylor Says:

    Hi Leslie,

    We have rewritten things in the last couple of days and feel ready to have you and others take another look.

    Thanks, again.

    Randy

  9. info Says:

    I’ve only taken a brief glance, but it *does* look better. If, after giving it a more thorough read, I think it’s okay, I will write a full post about it.
    Thanks for taking the concerns seriously! -L

  10. Marcus Maddox Says:

    I wanted to think you for bringing this to the attention of the photography world. I also appreciate the time you are taking to respond to the comments posted by the Randy Taylor (from the company in question). I feel that minimizing poorly worded information and PR is a crime and demonstrates a lack of accountability on the part of the source of the of information. I do appreciate the fact that he appears to be responsive, but It’s not clear to me how reliable a company whose business is related to protecting someones rights would be considering how lax they were in proliferating very bad verbiage.

  11. info Says:

    Marcus:

    There could have been many reasons for the errors. It could have been deliberate, or it could have been an earlier version of copy that went live by mistake, or it could have been anything in-between. I used to work for an interactive design firm–stuff happens that you never intended all the time.
    Besides, I like to look to outcomes rather than backstories–so, if (when I read it in detail) everything looks better, I will do a post saying so and encourage people to use the service (it has some good possibilities). –L