The Copyright Office is reviewing the problem of orphan works under U.S. copyright law in continuation of its previous work on the subject and to advise Congress on possible next steps for the United States. The Office has long shared the concern with many in the copyright community that the uncertainty surrounding the ownership status of orphan works does not serve the objectives of the copyright system. For good faith users, orphan works are a frustration, a liability risk, and a major cause of gridlock in the digital marketplace. The issue is not contained to the United States. Indeed, a number of foreign governments have recently adopted or proposed solutions.
The initial notice of inquiry seeks comments regarding the current state of play for orphan works. The Copyright Office is interested in what has changed in the legal and business environments during the past few years that might be relevant to a resolution of the problem and what additional legislative, regulatory, or voluntary solutions deserve deliberation at this time.