Friday, April 4, 2014

Copyright Office Seeks Public Comment on "Orphan Works"

The U.S. Copyright Office is reviewing the problem of orphan works under U.S. copyright law in continuation of its previous work on the subject and to advise Congress on possible next steps for the United States. The Office has long shared the concern with many in the copyright community that the uncertainty surrounding the ownership status of orphan works does not serve the objectives of the copyright system. For good faith users, orphan works are a frustration, a liability risk, and a major cause of gridlock in the digital marketplace. The issue is not contained to the United States. Indeed, a number of foreign governments have recently adopted or proposed solutions.

An ‘orphan work’ is an original work of authorship for which a good faith, prospective user cannot readily identify and/or locate the copyright owner(s) in a situation where permission from the copyright owner(s) is necessary as a matter of law (see Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry, Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, 77 FR 64555 (Oct. 22, 2012), available at

The U.S. Copyright Office has extended the deadline for public comments that address topics listed in the Office’s February 10, 2014, Notice of Inquiry and that respond to any issues raised during the public roundtables held in Washington, D.C., on March 10–11, 2014. All written comments should be submitted electronically. Comments are now due by 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 21, 2014.

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