Press Release

Public Knowledge Commends Senate Panel Approval of Orphan Works Bill

May 15, 2008 ,

Background: The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved on voice vote S. 2913, The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. (Bentley was a former Committee staff member who died at age 41.) 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 Senate Judiciary Committee has approved this legislation. Overall, the bill would restore much needed balance to copyright law by freeing up for use by follow on creators so-called orphan works.

“We look forward to working with the Committee on a range of issues as the bill moves forward. We want to make certain that artists are protected from litigation while they are still creating their works, and to make certain that there is a workable process for establishing what will be the 'best practices' for artists to use in searching for the copyright holders of works presumed to be orphans.”

The bill as approved by the Committee is here.