When permission to use a copyrighted work has not been granted by a license or an exception or limitation in copyright law (e.g., fair use), written permission from the copyright owner is required to use the work. An orphan work is a copyright protected work for which the copyright owner cannot be identified or located, so there is no opportunity for someone to request permission to use the work. Estimates are that millions of books, photographs, sound recordings, etc. are orphaned. The orphan works problem is a serious public policy issue, prohibiting the preservation, dissemination, and use of much of our cultural and intellectual heritage.
The University Libraries advocates for legislation that would enable use of orphan works under certain circumstances. Advocacy efforts include:
- Reply to responses to the U.S. Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization. (March 2013)
- Response to the U.S. Copyright Office NOI on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization. (January 2013)
- Reply to responses to the U.S. Copyright Office NOI on Orphan Works. (May 2005)
- Response to the U.S. Copyright Office NOI on Orphan Works. (March 2005)
- Denise Troll Covey. The Proposed Solution to the Orphan Works Problem: Safe Legal Adoption or Risky Foster Parenting? Presentation. Coalition for Networked Information (CNI). Arlington, VA. Apr. 2006.
- Denise Troll Covey. Rights, Registries and Remedies: An Analysis of Responses to the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry Regarding Orphan Works. Free Culture and the Digital Library: Symposium Proceedings 2005. Atlanta, GA: Emory University, 2005. 106-140.