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Background: The House Intellectual Property Subcommittee today approved H.R. 5889, the Orphan Works Act of 2008. Orphan works are works, such as photographs, music or film, or other works for which the copyright holder can't be found by someone who wants to use the work in a way that normally would require permission. Works can become "orphaned" for a number of reasons: the owner did not register the work, the owner sold rights in the work and did not register the transfer, the owner died and his heirs cannot be found.
The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
"We are pleased that the Subcommittee has approved this legislation with the promise to continue to discuss issues of concern with stakeholders before a full Judiciary Committee markup. Overall, we believe the bill would restore much needed balance to copyright law by freeing up for use by follow on creators so-called orphan works.
"We recognize there are some issues going forward on which we would like to work with the subcommittee before the bill is considered by the full Judiciary Committee. The 'notice of use' archive provision, would impose onerous filing requirements on users without providing any real benefits to owners by requiring users to submit summaries of their searches along with a notice of intended use. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) on behalf of herself and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), noted during the markup that there are already provisions in the bill that obviate the need for such an archive.
"We thank Subcommittee Chairman Berman, Ranking Member Coble and their staff for taking the time to work with us. We look forward to working with them on these issues of concern."
A copy of a letter PK sent to the Subcommittee outlining our view of the bill is here.