The need for “copyright evidence”

Love it or hate it, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 died in the US House of Representatives this week. The bill will not come up for discussions until later, possibly after the general elections in November (and I think likely not until the next Congress, the way things are going.) This is the most recent attempt to provide a legal framework for those who want to want to use works defined as “orphaned,” or those works where a copyright owner cannot be easily located.

With various forms of proposed and pending legislation on the horizon for some time now, librarians and others have been operating in the breach and tracking down what evidence they can, in hopes that some sort of safe harbor will be established for those who have made what has been termed a “reasonable effort.” To support these efforts (and to help cut down on redundancy) OCLC has released a pilot Copyright Evidence Registry. I’ve been working off and on with the team that created the CER for some time, and it has been great to see the project moving forward. Our own Copyright Investigation Summary Report (issued in January) provided background information to the team members and to the larger community.

If you are interested in participating, there’s information how to sign up for the pilot on the website. Kudos to colleagues for getting this out the door.

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4 Comments

  1. Whoops! I fixed the link.

    SAA’s IP Working Group has a set of recommendations for dealing with unpublished orphaned works that I hope will be coming out any day now. Heather Briston (University of Oregon) is the chair of that group.

  2. I thought that colleagues may wish to know that in the UK we have started “In from the Cold”, a collaborative project between the Strategic Content Allaince and The Collections Trust, whose purpose is to:
    • Define the impact of Orphan Works on Public Sector service delivery;
    • Research the scale and scope of the problem across the SCA (cultural heritage; education/research; health; and public service broadcasting) communities;
    • Provide qualitative evidence of how access to and use of content are inhibited
    • Raise the profile of the issue through strategic advocacy and press relations

    The aim of the project is to inform the future development of the work of the SCA by quantifying the issue of works for which the rights holders cannot be traced or unknown, raising the public and political profile of the issue and providing an indication of the level of resourcing required to resolve it.
    The results will be available in a report to be published in March 2009.

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