Wednesday, January 26, 2005

LAW - Copyright Office Seeks Comment on Orphan Works

Today's issue of the Federal Register, which the federal government uses to announce things like new and upcoming administrative regulations, provided an interesting opportunity for American copyright scholars to exercise their brains. Click HERE to view the Copyright Office's notice of inquiry.

The Copyright Office is looking at "orphan works," which are protected by copyright but which have owners that are difficult, if not impossible, to find. The government is concerned that there may be people who want to make legal uses of these works but can't license them because they can't find the owners.

I haven't looked at the document too closely, but the Copyright Office is accepting public commentary on the issue as part of the administrative process. We may see some regulations on the subject down the road.

Another interesting thing about the notice is that it talks about some existing methods for addressing the issue. For example, Canada allows people to talk to the Canadian version of the Copyright Office to get a license, essentially taking it over on behalf of the absent copyright owner.

I'll post more about this once I've had a chance to read it more closely.

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Just wanted to mention the Web site the students at FreeCulture.org have put up to encourage people to comment:

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