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There's a lot of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) being spread by some who are opposed to orphan works legislation. Here's a quick Myth and Fact about orphan works:
MYTH: The bills would mandate registration of all visual arts in expensive, private registries.
FACT: Neither bill contains such a mandate. Owners’ failure to register would not absolve users of their search obligations. The purpose behind the “visual registries” provisions is to help artists keep ownership information associated with their works and to help users find owners. In order to achieve this purpose, the bills contemplate the development of electronic databases of visual works in the market place. However, these registries do not have to be expensive. The bills do not require artists to use these services, nor do they require the services to charge a registration fee. Services that operate in the current marketplace, and provide services free of cost, could easily evolve into the visual registries contemplated by the bills. The bottom line is that the bills aim to encourage the market to solve a problem to help owners be found, but the bills do not require owners to register with these services.