Brad Holland
If you care about protecting the rights to your work, it's important that you respond to this Library of Congress survey before next Tuesday, January 31.
The survey is short – only a few words to fill in about yourself and 3 questions to answer – and if you don't have time to write, you can copy and paste from the suggested responses I'll post below.
Here's the story in a nutshell: Dr. Carla Hayden, the new Librarian of Congress, has fired the head of the Copyright Office and is soliciting advice on the "knowledge, skills and abilities" people think the new Register should have.
It has been widely reported that Dr. Hayden supports the agenda of the anti-copyright lobby. So if past is prologue, these corporate interests will use her "survey" to gin up an astroturf response from their supporters. Then they can take the results to Congress to claim that the American people want art on the Internet to be free.

To counter this lobbying tactic, creators must respond in numbers with a call to retain the full protections of copyright as articulated in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution.

Please take the time to go to the Library of Congress survey website, say a few words about yourself and respond to their three questions.

Here are some suggested responses to the 3 questions:

1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

An unbiased Register of Copyrights should:

Understand the need to protect copyrighted material as the private property of creators.

Understand that copyright protections afforded creators DO NOT rob the public of an imaginary entitlement.

Understand and appreciate that most creators are small business owners who operate in a business world in which large content firms enjoy unequaled bargaining power.

Understand that corporations don't create; individuals do.

Understand that copyright protects both the business interests of professional creators and the personal privacy rights of all citizens.

Understand that copyright is a human right– not one bestowed by government – as codified in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that all creators therefore enjoy "the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [or she] is the author."

Understand that creators are individuals who lack the lobbying resources  of large corporations with multi-million dollar lobbying budgets and full time lobbyists.

Recognize and appreciate that Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution specifies that creators enjoy copyright as an "exclusive right" and does not contain any provision for creating new rights for users by means of statutory legislation.

Understand that any effort to curtail the "exclusive rights" of creators, as defined by Article 1 Section 8  would degrade that Constitutional right to a non-exclusive right and would therefore be UNconstitutional.

Recognize that any effort to re-introduce mandatory registration (even as a de facto requirement)  would create an impossible burden of compliance on creators and result in millions of managed copyrights falling through the cracks and into the public domain.

Refrain from recommending any ex post facto copyright legislation to Congress: any laws applied retroactively to work created under existing copyright law would only create massive uncertainty in commercial markets, invalidate contracts past and present, and therefore harm creators and clients alike.

An unbiased Register should NOT be a former lobbyist, lawyer, law professor, etc. associated with big internet firms or with institutions that receive or have received funding from such firms.

An unbiased Register should NOT have lobbied for orphan works legislation, open source content or been associated with firms that have lobbied for those interests.

A Register should guarantee that any exceptions to an author's exclusive right recommended to Congress fully pass the Three Step Test of  the Berne Convention and international copyright-related treaties; i.e:  

Any exception to an author's exclusive copyright should be limited to

a.) certain special cases, provided
b.) that such reproduction does not conflict with the author's normal exploitation of the work and
c.) does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

 2. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?

1. End work-for-hire abuses by corporations which use their superior bargaining power to forcibly acquire copyrights from creators as a pre-condition of doing business.

2. Correct the current orphan works lobbying effort to ensure that only work which has been truly abandoned by creators will be affected by orphan works legislation.

3. Recommend to Congress that it pass the legislation previously introduced as H.R.1881, The American Royalties Too Act of 2015, providing visual artists with the means to manage their secondary rights collectively, collect royalties currently lost from blanket licensing schemes, and obtain royalties from the re-sale of original works.

3. Are there other factors that should be considered?

We believe that the new Register of Copyrights should have a creator's business background. For the following reasons:

a.)  Article I Section 8 of the Constitution defines copyright as the exclusive right of creators and does not mention users at all.

b.)  Unlike individuals, corporate interests have the resources to retain full-time lobbyists, publicists, funded academics, etc. to lobby government on behalf of their interests;  a Register with a creators business background would partially redress that profound economic imbalance.

c.)  The digital world has created unique business challenges for creators. We deserve the time to adapt our business models to this new environment and not have business models imposed on us by people with no practical business experience or concern for our interests.

D.) Lawmakers and civil servants have neither the time nor the expertise to devise business models for the myriad business interests of creators; and those recommending legislation have frequently shown little or no interest or willingness to learn.

A Register would do well to understand the principle made famous in the timeless economic fable "I Pencil", which details the complexity of creating something as simple as a common lead pencil and stresses that none of the business interests necessary for its manufacture and marketing have sufficient knowledge of that complexity to mastermind its creation:

"The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed."

4. The survey also has an item #4, where you can upload additional comments as a pdf. Consider  identifying yourself as a creator (and not a user) and make a personal statement:

I am a professional freelance artist and small business owner. I've been in business for ___ years. I specialize in _____. I am wholly responsible for all my business and overhead expenses. I pay my own insurance premiums and health care expenses. I fund my own retirement plans and have no other safety net. I earn my entire income from the licensing of my copyrighted work, so it is critical for my ability to earn a living that the US continue to provide creators like me with the full protections of existing copyright law.

Politics and Rats
Monday, Kerry Meyer commented on my Op-Ed post from last week:
"I love the Rat you did, impaling itself, for the Nixon Administration with the tag . . . 'Four More Years.' Timely Now!"

 I see you're a long-time veteran of the political wars, Kerry. Yes, the famous Rat of 1972, you have a great memory.

Nineteen seventy two was the year Richard Nixon was running for a second term and I used to joke that I wanted him to win because it was the only way we'd ever find out what the deal was with Watergate. The "second-rate burglary" had taken place that June: it got a brief mention in the press, but then disappeared entirely from the public consciousness. A few weeks before election day, most people had still never heard of it.

So it was around that time, mid-October as I recall, that Wendell Minor and I were having lunch, and I was complaining that the press had completely dropped the ball on Watergate. There had to be a scandal of some kind there, I said, but it appeared they had successfully covered it up. Nixon was probably going to win, I added, so look on the bright side. With him in the White House for four more years, there'll be plenty of time for the blood to run out from under the door. But if he isn't reelected, we'll never know what happened.

I had already done the drawing of a rat commiting suicide for a hippie newspaper called The New York Ace. Wendell brought it up and said I should make a button of it and sell it. So we did: Wendell did the typography and we split the cost of manufacturing. Only we didn't sell the buttons. We lugged a couple thousand of them up to Democratic headquarters on 43rd and Vanderbilt and gave them to them to sell. They went quickly, we were told, so the staff asked for more and they sold out too.

Anyway, come election night, Wendell and some other friends and I went to a McGovern rally – more like a wake as it turned out – at the old Commodore Hotel above Grand Central Station. I had a shoulder bag with a bunch of rat buttons with me and we were handing them out to friends or people that we met. Then on one side of the big hall we spotted Kurt Vonnegut talking to Hal Holbrook, so we wandered over, butted in, and both gentlemen went home that evening wearing rat buttons.

Later, as the election returns began to come in and a pall settled over the crowd, Wendell and I decided to split. When the elevator came, the door opened and there, among a handful of weeping Democrats, was an elegant looking lady in a long gown. I recognized her as Myrna Loy.

She was probably in her 60s then, maybe 70 already, well on the downside of her film career but still as poised as she had been in the nineteen thirties on the arm of William Powell and not looking bad either. I had never seen many of her movies, only one or two of the Thin Man pictures, but standing there among the dejected McGovernheads dressed in their street clothes, she was an island of self-composure and old fashioned star presence.
As Wendell and I stepped in and the door closed, I smiled and offered her a rat button. She smiled back graciously and shook her head, no rat buttons for the star. "Nora Charles would have taken one," I said. She grinned at that but she still didn't say anything and she wouldn't touch the button.

I still have one or two of those things somewhere around the house. I found one in a drawer a few years ago and scanned it into the archive before it could get lost again. Now I don't know where it is. Maybe it's the button Myrna Loy wouldn't take.

Oh, and by the way: guess which New York real estate tycoon, frequently in the news these days, now owns the old Commodore Hotel…

And as for the rat, a few years later, I did another version of the drawing for the New York Times, but they rejected it. They said they don't publish rats.
What a great tag line for the paper, I thought when I heard that. It could replace "All the news that's fit to print." The New York Times: We Don't Publish Rats. Has a good solid ring to it, doesn't it?
Rats © 1972 / 1976 Brad Holland 
Photo of William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles at Alt Film Guide
Comodore Hotel postcard at Lost New York City
Another Voice

Art selected from work created while Patrick Flynn was Art Director for The Progressive, 1981–1999. Over 100 illustrations by fifty artists, inlcuding:
Julian Allen
Marshall Arisman
Anne Bascove
Melinda Beck
Roxanna Bikadoroff
Steve Brodner
Philip Burke
Larry Carroll
Joseph Ciardiello
Warrington Colescott
Sue Coe
Diana Craft
Richard Downs
Michael Duffy
Carl Dunn
Henrik Drescher
Randall Enos
Mark S. Fisher
Chris Ferrantello
Robert Gale
Gale Geltner
Stuart Goldenberg
Brad Holland
Hadley Hooper
Jordin Isip
Frances Jetter
David Johnson
J.D. King
David Klein
Stephen Kroninger
Anita Kunz
Peter Kuper
Warren Linn
David McLimans
Chris Mullen
Gary Panter
Alain Pilon
Ken Rinciari
Jonathon Rosen
Arnold Roth
Sergio Ruzzier
Lane Smith
Ralph Steadman
Katherine Streeter
David Suter
Mark Ulriksen
Roxana Villa
Mark Wagner
Christopher Wilde
Glenn Wolff


Starting today, a dozen of my ink drawings will be exhibited in OP-ED ART:IMAGE IN THE SERVICE OF IDEAS, a group exhibition at the Pelham Art Center, Pelham New York. The show will run through March 25. The opening is this evening at 6:30.

The other artists are Doug Chayka, Frances Jetter, Alex Nabaum, Eiko Ojala and Bruce Waldman. It was curated by Elizabeth Saperstein and Nancy Warner.

From the gallery's website: "In OP-ED Art, artists create powerful graphic images in newspapers and magazines to reveal a nugget of the political, personal, or cultural stories they illustrate. Original pen and ink drawings, prints, paintings, collages, and digital art by six celebrated artists who have achieved international acclaim and awards will be on view."

My own drawings cover a period of more than 40 years, starting with my first drawing for the New York Times Op-Ed page in 1970, a time that I've written about here.

My "That's Not Art" poster, the poster for this exhibition, was first done for the Center for Book Arts and is available either there or (in its new version) from the Pelham Art Center.

The Observation Deck
Midnight Ride

Trickle Down

Seat of Power



Point Counterpoint

Literary Beast

All drawings © 1970 – 2016 Brad Holland
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