Over the weekend we received about a zillion links to this call to arms at Animation World Magazine decrying an upcoming amendment to the Orphan Works bill soon to come up for vote:

In short, if Congress passes this law, YOU WILL LOSE THE RIGHT TO MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR OWN CREATIONS!

Why is this allowed to happen? APATHY and MONEY.

Artists have apathy and corporations have money.

We need to be heard in order to protect our incomes, our creations and our careers. GET OFF YOUR ASS!


Stirring words and we’re all for artists not losing control of their works. But is this really all that it seems? Apparently, not really, as no bill is actually up before Congress at this time. This link would seem to refute many of the scary calls for petitions and so on:

But Mark Simon apparently believes that enacting legislation to handle orphaned works in a way that protects people who legitimately try to find the original copyright holder, but can’t, will lead to the effective invalidation of copyright on ALL UNREGISTERED ART EVERYWHERE OMGZ CALL OUT THE CAVALRY. His article, which I linked above, is miserably poorly researched, jumps to completely illogical conclusions, and, most retardedly of all, implores artists to letterbomb Congress in protest of proposed legislation which does not actually exist. Someone please tell me where this guy is getting the crack he’s smoking, because I want to avoid that streetcorner and everything in a six-block radius, kthx.


We’re not ENTIRELY clear on which side of this is correct but the hysterical tone of Simon’s piece tipped us off right away.

MEANWHILE, non orphaned work can be stolen as the tale of indie rock band Crystal Castles appropriating the work of indie artist Trevor Brown shows.

mentioned before – a pair of stupid kids doing electronica stuff who decided they’d use my art for their first 7″ record cover without bothering to seek permission – the same image also stolen for “official” crystal castles t-shirts – their excuse and reasoning being: we found the image on an old flyer, with no credit, so we didnt know who it belonged to or who to ask we figured if we used it, the artist would eventually make him/herself known well, the artist did quickly learn about it and made himself known – then proceeded to waste months listening to their lame apologies and promises – but never got anything – not even a lousy copy of the record – all they did was belatedly stick a credit to me on their web site (ie myspace page) for the t-shirt design, as if that made everything hunky dory – the 7″ sold out fast but i asked them to stop selling the shirts


The art in question is based on a photograph of Madonna to which Brown added a swollen black eye, but even that doesn’t mean the right to profit from his work. Brown specializes in Lolita-style art of little girls with swollen shut black eyes and other very very disturbing and controversial imagery. But that doesn’t mean he should get ripped off. Meanwhile, we really like Crystal Castles. Chris Butcher has more.

1 COMMENT

  1. The band stopped selling the t-shirts when Trevor asked them to. The band could send Trevor a copy of the record because the record sold out instantly. They don’t even have copies for themselves.

    If Trevor asked them to stop selling the shirts and the band stopped selling the shirts what exactly is the problem?

  2. The band stopped selling the t-shirts when Trevor asked them to. The band couldn’t send Trevor a copy of the record because the record sold out instantly. They don’t even have copies for themselves.

    If Trevor asked them to stop selling the shirts and the band stopped selling the shirts what exactly is the problem?

  3. We actually really really need an Orphaned Works law. I don’t understand why folks are freaking out about it. It does not allow people to “steal” your artwork, no more so than the current system does. It does put the breaks on some of the incredibly draconian copyright laws that Disney keeps forcing through congress.

    However, I think a much much better idea would be to simply shorten the length of copyright. The only reason that orphaned works legislation is needed at all is because congress way way overextended the length of copyright in the first place.

  4. Seriously, this issue needs to go away. Although, it IS the biggest thing happening in Trevor Brown’s life. And the smallest in Crystal Castles’.

  5. As I’ve pointed out on another site where this hysteria was raised, the article refers to a piece of legislation that was from a previous Congress and, therefore, has expired. It’s dead. It’s not becoming law.

    That doesn’t mean a legislator can’t rework the bill and reintroduce it, but that hasn’t happened.

  6. The big deal !!! is that they used his work without paying him and without permission. I’m sure Crystal Castle would be flipping out if the same was done to them.

  7. The big deal !!! is that they used his work without paying him and without permission. I’m sure Crystal Castle would be flipping out if the same was done to them.

  8. The big deal !!! is that they used his work without paying him and without permission. I’m sure Crystal Castle would be flipping out if the same was done to them.

  9. Read into the story a little more, “Peter.”
    Trevor Brown had his chance to get paid but he’s a stubborn little child pornographer………

  10. Man, Crystal Castles are either jerks or idiots. Why would they possibly think they could use another artists’ work without permission? Either they’re just completely ignorant of the law, or they’re incredibly arrogant and self centered. Probably both.

    Music critics praise them as some kind of incredibly innovative geniuses… but those music critics simply must be unaware of the chiptunes scene. I think they’re pretty good, but literally hundreds of musicians have been making this kind of music for about a decade already!

    http://the-inbetween.com/2008/03/16/crystal-castles-vs-chiptunes/

  11. Doy! Why would you believe the rantings of Trevor Brown who is a raving pedophile lunatic? But thanks. Have you ever heard of a thing called the other side of the story?

  12. It doesn’t matter that he’s a raving pedophile lunatic. They took his work without permission (album cover and shirts) and did not pay him. What would be the other side of the story? They should have sought him out and asked permission first. If he had said no then they would have had to move on. It’s quite simple.

  13. Reading the various accounts, what seems to have happened is that they found the image on a flyer, had no idea where it was from and decided to use it. Now that was not good, but considering the “found” nature of the original image, sort of in the same spirit. When the image’s creator WAS found that’s when everyone shoud have sat down and been grown ups. It seems to be the band’s manager who is being more of an ass, not the band members themselves.

  14. The band had the artist’s permission in 2006. The band stopped using the image when the artist asked them to.

    The band was ripped off by Timbaland and I don’t see them complaining.

    Look up “Crystal Castles 50 Cent” on youtube for more on this.

  15. “It seems to be the band’s manager who is being more of an ass, not the band members themselves.”

    Well, a manager works for the band. If he’s an ass, that means they’re paying him to be an ass on their behalf. Wouldn’t that make them asses too?

    “The band stopped using the image when the artist asked them to.”

    Simply not true! I checked their myspace page yesterday, they’re still using the image.

  16. That’s interesting, in regard to the Crystal Castles manager denying they used the art on the cd when the artist demanded money for it.

  17. That’s interesting, in regard to the Crystal Castles manager denying they used the art on the cd when the artist demanded money for it.

  18. Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.
    – Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903

    As a lawyer who has worked on some copyright issues over the years (I am by no means an expert) I think anyone who is concerned about copyright protection in the U.S. should read the report by the Registrar of Copyrights @

    http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/orphan-report.pdf

    There is a summary of the report here:

    http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat031308.html

    You can see the video transcript of the most recent hearing (March 13) in the House of Representatives here:

    http://judiciary.house.gov/oversight.aspx?ID=427

    You can see what the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has to say about it here:

    http://www.asmp.org/news/spec2006/orphan_update.php

    While the law has a legitimate purpose (to free up the use of untraceable historic works) the protections afforded authors (it denies them the right to attorney’s fees otherwise provided in every other instance of copyright infringement) is insufficient. It has been my experience, that the fact the copyright law has a mandatory attorney fee component, often hastens settlement of an infringed upon author’s claim.

    I am also concerned about how “diligent” a copyright user has to be in searching for an author of a work. See the link below about the millions in unpaid royalties that record companies did not pay because they “could not find” such “unknowns” as David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli, Dave Matthews, Sean Combs and Gloria Estefan:

    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2004/may/may4a_04.html

    Mitch Berger