Orphans’ Home, Atchison, Kansas, 1911, image © Thiophene GuyOn March 10–11, 2014, the US Copyright Office convened roundtables on orphan works and mass digitization. Several participants attacked fair use and libraries, misstated the purpose of the copyright system in the United States, or inaccurately portrayed the activities of HathiTrust. An ARL Policy Notes blog post examines some of these misconceptions, or myths, cited at the roundtables and responds to these inaccuracies. An earlier ARL Policy Notes blog post recaps the roundtable discussions, which covered best practices, fair use, licensing solutions, and the issue of whether orphan works and mass digitization need to be treated separately.
James Neal testifying at House copyright hearingJames G. Neal, Columbia University’s university librarian and vice president for information services, served as the voice of libraries to the US House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, when the subcommittee held a hearing on preserving and reusing copyrighted work. The hearing, “Preservation and Reuse of Copyrighted Works,” explored a variety of copyright issues, including orphan works, mass digitization, and specific provisions of the Copyright Act that concern preservation by libraries and archives.
James G. NealOn Wednesday, April 2, 2014, the US House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet continued its copyright review. This hearing focused on “Preservation and Reuse of Copyrighted Works” with six panelists: Gregory Lukow (chief, Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, Library of Congress), Richard Rudick (co-chair, Section 108 Study Group), James G. Neal (vice president for information services and university librarian, Columbia University), Jan Constantine (general counsel, the Authors Guild), Michael C. Donaldson (partner, Donaldson + Callif, LLP, on behalf of Film Independent and International Documentary Association), and Jeffry Sedlik (president and chief executive officer, PLUS Coalition). Written testimony from each witness is available on the House Judiciary Committee website.
James Neal’s statement (PDF), endorsed by the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), provides that the “overarching point is that the existing statutory framework, which combines the specific library exceptions in Section 108 with the flexible fair use right, works well for libraries, and does not require amendment.” In reaching this point, the written statement goes through four issues: (1) the importance of library preservation, (2) how the library exceptions under Section 108 supplement rather than supplant fair use, (3) the diminished need for orphan works legislation, and (4) perspective on the HathiTrust case.
The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) today filed reply comments (PDF) with the US Copyright Office in response to the office’s October 22, 2012, Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about the current state of play with orphan works and mass digitization.
The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) today filed comments (PDF) with the US Copyright Office in response to their October 22, 2012, Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about the current state of play with orphan works and mass digitization.
In their motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, Plaintiffs in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust advance a radical and unprecedented interpretation of 17 U.S.C. § 108 that threatens the most routine library operations.
On January 13, 2012, the Supreme Court by a 6-2 vote affirmed the Tenth Circuit decision in Golan v. Holder. The case concerned the constitutionality of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), which restored copyright in foreign works that had entered into the public domain because the copyright owners had failed to comply with formalities such as notice; or because the U.S. did not have copyright treaties in place with the country at the time the work was created (e.g., the Soviet Union)
Presented at the 159th ARL Membership Meeting, October 2011.
There is long-standing interest in identifying orphan works, books that are subject to copyright but whose copyright holders cannot be identified or contacted. Orphan works comprise a significant percentage of ARL collections, and there is deep interest in making these works discoverable and more accessible. Recently, the University of Michigan announced the initiation of the Orphan Works Project. The focus of the project is on US digitized books held by HathiTrust, a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future.
In the wake of Judge Chin's rejection of the Google Books Settlement, there has been a renewed interest in legislative solutions to a variety of copyright issues affecting libraries, including those implicating the mass digitization of books, the use of orphan works, and the modernization of 17 U.S.C. §108 (particularly preservation). The Library Copyright Alliance, comprised of the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), has several general comments on possible efforts to address these issues via legislation.
Letter from the Library Copyright Alliance regarding S. 2913, which limits remedies in copyright infringement cases involving orphan works.
Library Copyright Alliance letter to Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch expressing appreciation for continued leadership on S. 2913, which limits remedies in copyright infringement cases involving orphan works.
The orphan works legislation is intended to enable someone, after conducting a "qualifying search" for the owner, to use an orphan work--a copyrighted work whose owner cannot be located.
Letter from the Library Copyright Alliance expressing appreciation for the introduction of H.R. 5889, which limits remedies in copyright infringement cases involving orphan works.
Library Copyright Alliance letter expressing gratitude to the Subcommittee for holding a hearing on orphan works—the LCA's top legislative priority.
Letter from the Library Copyright Alliance expressing concerns with Section 104 of HR 4279 and its impact on orphan works.
Orphan works are works whose copyright owners cannot be identified and located. Libraries and archives possess millions of orphan works in their collections, in the form of photographs, letters, manuscripts, drawings, and older books. These works often have great historic and cultural significance. However, because the copyright owners cannot be located, libraries cannot obtain the rights holders' permission to make these works widely available to the public. This leaves libraries on the horns of a dilemma. Libraries can either disseminate the works and face the risk of the copyright owners demanding statutory damages and injunctive relief; or leave the works in archives, where few people can see them.
Letter from library associations addressing consensus proposal on orphan works.
College Art Association response to the Copyright Office's notice of inquiry concerning orphan works.
Library Copyright Alliance response to the Copyright Office's Notice of Inquiry concerning orphan works.