Difference between revisions of "Archive:Orphan works RFC"

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(Amanda's blog post)
m (Contacts: - Adding places to contact)
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* [http://joi.ito.com/archives/2005/02/01/us_copyright_office_asking_about_orphan_works.html Joi Ito]
* [http://joi.ito.com/archives/2005/02/01/us_copyright_office_asking_about_orphan_works.html Joi Ito]
* [http://blog.librarylaw.com/librarylaw/2005/01/great_news_orph.html LibraryLaw]
* [http://blog.librarylaw.com/librarylaw/2005/01/great_news_orph.html LibraryLaw]
* [http://www.budesigns.com/freechannel/index.php?p=15 FreeChannel]
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* [http://www.corante.com/copyfight/archives/032713.php Copyfight]
* [http://www.corante.com/copyfight/archives/032713.php Copyfight]
* [http://pug.ibu02.com/2005/01/30/orphaned-works-comments/ J.C. Jones]
* [http://pug.ibu02.com/2005/01/30/orphaned-works-comments/ J.C. Jones]
* [http://www.budesigns.com/freechannel/index.php?p=15 FreeChannel]

Revision as of 22:48, 11 February 2005

Web site

What text do we want to include?

First drafts

Amanda's Web site text

A Golden Opportunity to Speak Up

Greetings! If you¹ve reached this page, you already know why a fair, sensible copyright system is worth supporting. (Or maybe not. See our FAQ.)

Right now we have a great opportunity - our government has explicitly asked for our feedback! The Copyright Office has issued an official Request for Comment with regard to so-called "orphan works."

The official text is below. And here's the plain-English intrepretation:


We need to hurry -- comments are due by March 25, 2005. Luckily, you just need to follow these three easy steps to submit your comment by e-mail:

  • Step 1: Write Comment
  • Step 2: Confirm Email
  • Step 3: Done!

Summary from the Federal Register

Amanda's blog post

Speak up for Copyright Orphans!

Imagine if you could not use the color red [the color red was outlawed.] Does that sound absurd? It's one way that you can interpret today's copyright law. Under our laws, creators are like painters whose palettes can be [are] limited to a very narrow range of colors. In this case, the "colors" are creative works from the past.

Thousands and thousands of books, movies, and songs [TV shows] what about music? created over the last 80 years/century COULD be available to the public to view, adapt, and enjoy...but instead they're stuck in legal limbo. In most cases, the law says you can't use these works without permission of the copyright owner, but how do you get permission if you don't know who to ask?

  • Copyright is automatic -- Registration is not required
  • Even anonymous works are copyrighted -- How can you find the person if it is completely unsigned?
  • Many copyright owners have moved, changed their names, or died
  • Many copyrights have changed hands -- through inheritance, corporate buyouts, or other means
  • Tracing copyright often means hiring an expensive lawyer, or going through an extended search through the Library of Congress.

Creating a simple, easy way for members of the public to check the status of orphan works would add many, many currently unavailable [illegal] colors to our palettes. In fact, since works are automatically copyrighted, no one even knows how many are out there. This could mean the difference between painting without red...and painting in crimson, scarlet, pink, and fuschia.

So drop a line to the Copyright Office today. Tell them how much you care about fixing this problem. And if you have a brainstorm about HOW to fix it (i.e., what kind of system [lookup] you'd like to see), tell them that too. They have several potential solutions proposed on their site. Perhaps we should link to that here?

Ordinary People Can AND HAVE Used Their Power to Affect Government Policies

Example 1: In 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture responded to an avalanche of more than 275,000 commments on its proposed definition for "organic" food by substantially rewriting the regulation.

"I do want to point out that the fact that we are once again announcing a proposed rule on national organic standards is a living example of our democracy at work. The people spoke very loudly... It's a well known fact that we received an unprecedented 275,603 comments during the first go round.... " - Dan Glickman, Secretary of US Department of Agriculture, March 7, 2000.

Example 2: In 2004, the National Weather Service responded to over 1400 comments on its proposed policy on the distribution of weather and climate information, forecasts, and warnings to the public. Recognizing that the agency needed to move away from its restrictive format, the NWS formally adopted [open standards? how do we phrase this?]. It was noted that the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and other open standards lowers the barriers to entry in the commercial marketplace, as had been pointed out out in a comment to the NWS from the Center for Democracy and Technology. [I'm not sure whether we need this much information on these examples. Perhaps we should just stick with one example or give a shorter summary of each.

Bottom line: Someone IS reading your comments! So e-mail now to make sure your voice is heard.


Some places to get some info/ideas from


These are people we've made contact with to ask their input or encourage them to comment. Please include your name and the date you contacted them. Underneath, include the status.

Seeking comment

  • Tess Taylor, president, Nat'l Assoc. of Record Industry Professionals
    • 29 Jan, Gavin
    • 7 Feb: no reply
  • Tom Cotter, professor of law, UFlorida
    • 29 Jan, Gavin
    • 7 Feb: no reply
  • Gerald Haskins, professor of computing, UFlorida, Florida FC faculty advisor
    • 29 Jan, Gavin
    • 7 Feb: no reply

To contact

Who should we contact?

  • Local
    • Professors: law, film, art, library science, literature, computer science...
    • Librarians
    • Send out an e-mail to your local FC mailing list
  • Home of the Underdogs might be a good place. They host abandonware -- "orphan" computer software. Their site is CC licensed and bears EFF and Firefox banners, so they're probably friendly. And they certainly would have experience on the subject.

Announcing the Web site


To comment

Can't be bothered to comment in these places yet, but we should -- after doing it, move it up, SVP.


When we blog the orphan works site, let's trackback as many related stories as possible. This is another way of getting the site in front of other people, and (may) improve our search engine rankings. (Commenting probably won't affect our position on search engines thanks to the rel=nofollow fix for blog comments, but Trackback may not be affected.) Add sites to Trackback here: