Orphan Works

The US Copyright Office is accepting comments and suggestions on how to deal with “orphan” works. Basically this term refers to works (e.g. music, video, text etc.) where the owner(s) of the rights is practically missing which makes it virtually impossible to lawfully utilize the work in a secondary piece, even if the current artist(s) is willing to pay. Sometimes the original artists have passed away and the rights are lingering in some estate somewhere. Other times the artists are just out of the loop and would jump at the chance to have their work gain some exposure.

In an exciting move towards transparency, the US Copyright Office is actually soliciting people’s stories with respect to working through this recurring problem (where’s Shadow when you need him?). This site provides a user-friendly way to submit your comments, spread it if you can. LINK (via boingboing, courtesy of Eff and friends)

Update 03.28.05: Duke Law posted two great proposals on how to deal with orphan works. orphan works, orphan films