The hearing is taking place in New York this coming Monday, June 2, 2014.
Simply put, the First Sale Doctrine holds that if you purchase copyrighted material, you have the right to resell that item. For instance, once you're done reading your Tom Clancy novel, you can sell it on Craigslist or give it to a friend to read.
The changes to the doctrine will allow the same for digital books and software which are currently 'licensed' to you rather than 'sold'. Instead, we would be able to resell or pass along an ebook or software provided we delete our copy off our hard drive. However, one would also now possess the right to use the illustrations, photos, graphs from the ebook as one wishes. To make that happen, the doctrine stipulates that all agreements we creative professionals make with our clients big and small are full rights licensing agreements. No more limited rights.
A few reasons why this is not good for creative professionals as well as our clients:
- No more opportunities to resell exclusive artwork
- Inability to renegotiate agreements if the use will be greater than originally anticipated (consider: You create an illustration for a poster for a school and charge accordingly. The school decides to use the image for a magazine advertisement and billboards and they do not have to pay you for the additional use)
- Prices will have to go up to cover the additional rights we must pass along. Small clients will not be able to afford the work and large clients don't have the extra budgets
- Anyone who legitimately (under the doctrine) possesses a copy of my artwork could alter the work. It would still look like my work but, for example, with color choices I would never have made. Or the work could be used to promote or convey a message with which I do not agree. Both cases may have a negative impact on my reputation.
The Graphic Artists Guild, the Copyright Alliance and I will be submitting our testimony tomorrow morning and then I'll be appearing on Monday in front of a panel to offer my input (I have five minutes to speak) and to answer any questions the members might have.