Okay, in response to at least one person on Flickr who pointed out that the Orphan Works Bill does not explicitly set up a copyright database, I should clarify why the register will still be an inevitability under this legislation. I think the source of this confusion was my fault, as I didn't use clear wording in the mass mailings I sent to some people, or in a post I made on FlickrCentral.
"The main problem with this law would be that it would require us to register all our photos as copyrighted, without them being so automatically, as they are now."
That's, I think, the wording that mislead people, so I've axed it at least on FlickrCentral. The rest of this clarification is a variation on what I put there in a newer post....
In practice, a (public or private) registry would be required because the "diligent search" requirement of the law would be so lenient as to allow corporations, with high-end lawyers, to claim that because the material wasn't registered somewhere, it's automatically orphaned. Currently, if something is copyrighted, it's copyrighted on the basis that it's yours, so people on Flickr who want to protect their work mark it "All Rights Reserved" in the license, and usually put their name somewhere on the photo, as I do. This would, I think, give me a better argument in court, but under the new law, the corporation could argue, as with anyone, that they don't know who I am, and that I can't prove that they didn't make a "diligent" effort to contact me. Here's a New York Times article that explains some of the risks involved:
Most of the arguments in favor of the bill involve historical societies dealing with photographs in excess of 50 years old where the photographers are mostly dead or truly unknown, as discussed in these two pieces:
The second of these links is part of a much larger article about scanning historical materials in libraries. In case you didn't notice, I'm not dead yet, and neither are most Flickrites. We shouldn't have to register our work on a database to protect it from piracy by people who insist they did a "diligent search" for us, and thought we were dead. That's ridiculous. I can understand an expiry date of maybe 100 years after the creation of a work, but for photos produced in the last 30 years there shouldn't be a law that excuses piracy for anyone who claims that they performed a "diligent search" and didn't find the photo on a copyright database.
The other links covering this that I've compiled are mostly in my earlier post. Write your Congressman, protect your rights!!