You've probably gotten enough OMG, PANIC correspondence on the topic of Orphan Works that your assistant is already pulling up the autoreply and mentally filing this under 'more garbage.' But please, nice assistant, take a moment to read a little further, and consider passing this along.
I've been following the topic with a lot of interest, because I am both an artist, and a licensor of artwork. I am intrigued by legislation that attempts to put reasonable limits on lawsuits and I'd have to be living in a box not to have noticed the artist Internet panic that has resulted from these bills and a few reactionary blogs.
I don't believe that the government it attempting to gallop away with my copyrights, nor do I believe that the Register will at any point require a registration process for artwork; points have been clearly made that such a process puts an unfair burden on creators, and such a system is not fairly and completely searchable and so would not meet the criteria for 'reasonable search.'
However! I do find that the bill is vague enough to allow commercial users to believe that it would protect them if they were to use an Orphan Work rather than licensing from known, living artists. This isn't the point of the bill, and creates an atmosphere where artist work is undervalued. (Plus, it's bad for the economy. Everyone is against things that are bad for the economy!)
I would like to see an additional requirement added to the protective umbrella of this bill: that it only applies to work that is uniquely suited for the application, which cannot be substituted by something of reasonable equal and known copyright status.
This continues to protect educational use - for example historical photographs for which there is no similar subject matter recorded visually - and personal use - for example family photographs. But it limits the commercial user who may be seeking solely to sell t-shirts with a pretty fairy on them. They would have to use legally licensed work, or public domain work, or be subject to the current full penalties of the law, gaining no limitation of remedies from this bill.
Please consider bringing this to the attention of your fellow legislators when this bill is brought before the Senate, and thank you for your time.
PS: I didn't even needle you about the Intertubes!
PPS: For my LJ readership - no, this won't be the final version I send... gotta flesh it out with actual bill numbers and maybe humor it down a notch.