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.