Copyright Office on Orphan Works

By Ms. Tracy L. Thompson posted 10-23-2012 09:38

The impact of copyright law in relation to orphan works has been the subject of much legal debate in recent years, mostly as a result of the Google Books case. Now the Copyright Office is ready to address the issue and they are seeking our help. Yesterday, 10/22/2012, they issued a Notice of Inquiry, and the public has until Jan. 4, 2013 to respond. Please take some time to review the materials and consider responding. Thanks to Keith Ann Stiverson for bringing this to my attention!

From the Copyright Office website:


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.