For Immediate Release
Background: The U.S. Copyright Office published in the Jan. 26 Federal Register a notice asking for comment whether a solution is needed to deal with “orphan works” — works for which the copyright owner cannot be located. The Copyright Office said in its notice that: “…the public interest may be harmed when works cannot be made available to the public due to uncertainty over its copyright ownership and status, even when there is no longer any living person or legal entity claiming ownership of the copyright or the owner no longer has any objection to such use.” The Office noted that given the high cost pursuing orphan works means that scholars and small publishers don't use the works, “even where there is no one who would object to the use.” The full Notice is at:
Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn issued the following statement:
“The Copyright Office is to be commended for beginning this proceeding to examine the status of orphan works. We also very much appreciate the efforts of Senators Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Chairman Lamar Smith and Rep. Howard Berman from the House Judiciary Committee in asking that this analysis be undertaken.
“As the Copyright Office said in its notice, the evidence suggests that a large number of works may fall into the category of orphan works. We consider it extremely important, not only for the artists who are creating new work today, but also for the ideas created in years past, that orphan works be made as widely available as possible.
“The greater availability of orphan works will provide a new and valuable source of inspiration for writers, film-makers, musicians and artists generally.
“We look forward to participating in the Copyright Office proceeding, and we hope that anyone interested in enriching American culture will participate as well.”
Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution.
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