Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
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 in order to advise Congress as to 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, in recent months, the European Commission has adopted measures that would begin to resolve the issue in certain contexts and a number of foreign governments are reviewing or proposing solutions. The Copyright Office seeks comments regarding the current state of play for orphan works. It is interested in what has changed in the legal and business environments during the past few years that might be relevant to a resolution of the problem and what additional legislative, regulatory, or voluntary solutions deserve deliberation. This is a general inquiry and the Office will likely publish additional notices on this topic.