Orphan works legislation

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Orphan works are “copyrighted works whose owners may be impossible to identify and locate.” Because the default response of many is to disregard copyrighted works unless they are definitively in the public domain, orphan works are often not made available to the public due to uncertainty over their ownership. [1] This page details efforts in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere to address the problems associated with orphan works.


Current proposals

110th Congress

As of March 2007, no bills regarding orphan works had been filed during the 110th Congress. Several, however, had been filed in previous Congresses (see past legislation regarding orphan works)

U.S. Copyright Office releases proposal

Beginning in 2005, the U.S. Copyright Office began an examination of the issues surrounding orphan works. The office conducted several informal discussions with groups representing copyright owners and users. The office released a report to Congress detailing the problem and suggesting a possible legislative approach to solve it. The reforms proposed would require users of orphan works to pay “reasonable compensation” to the owners of orphan works, should they appear after a "reasonably diligent search." This remedy would apply to "all works immediately." [2] [3]

Response to proposal

On February 1, 2006, Public Knowledge, a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group involved in intellectual property law, competition, and choice in the digital m