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Report on Orphaned Works

By Marybeth Peters

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Book Id: WPLBN0002096874
Format Type: Default
File Size: 1,971 KB
Reproduction Date: 8/20/2011
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Title: Report on Orphaned Works  
Author: Marybeth Peters
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Drama and Literature, Copyright Laws
Collection: Authors Community
Subcollection: Education
Publication Date:
Publisher: United States Copyright Office
Member Page: PG Reading Room

This Report addresses the issue of “orphan works,” a term used to describe the situation where the owner of a copyrighted work cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires permission of the copyright owner. Even where the user has made a reasonably diligent effort to find the owner, if the owner is not found, the user faces uncertainty – she cannot determine whether or under what conditions the owner would permit use. Where the proposed use goes beyond an exemption or limitation to copyright, the user cannot reduce the risk of copyright liability for such use, because there is always a possibility, however remote, that a copyright owner could bring an infringement action after that use has begun.

Many commenters were in favor of determining whether a search was reasonable on an “ad hoc” or case-by-case basis, whereby each search is evaluated according to its circumstances. This approach was offered as having the advantage of flexibility to cover the wide variety of situations that depend on the type of work and type of use involved. Several others were in favor of a “formal” approach, whereby the copyright owner is required to maintain his contact information in a centralized location, and a user need only search those centralized locations to perform a reasonable search. That approach was offered as being more certain than the “ad hoc” approach.


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