Entries Matching: Orphan Works
Among the many valuable collections that the Library of Congress holds is a vast collection of old newspapers. The Library explains (page 16) that digitizing these collections can provide new and efficient tools for researchers. These newspapers offer a wealth of information on topics such as “the Great Depression, American perspectives on the rise of Hitler and World War II, post-World War I and immigrant communities in America, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, community views on the Civil Rights Act of 1968, to name a few.” These newspapers and scores of other works cannot be publicly disseminated without permission from their copyright owners, who are often unlocatable. These works are called orphan works. The Copyright Office is conducting an inquiry into possible solutions to the problem of orphan works.
After nearly two years of debates, never-ending commercials,
donation solicitations and ever-present polling, Election Day is over and the results are in. As many had predicted, the
balance of government has not changed significantly. Democrats will retain the Presidency and
control of the Senate, and Republicans will continue to control the House,
albeit by a slightly smaller margin than before.
“Going to the library was the one place we got to go without asking for permission. And they let us choose what we wanted to read. It was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely.” – Rita Dove. Unfortunately, the Authors Guild, an authors’ advocacy group, does not want library patrons to access books without its permission. The Authors Guild filed a lawsuit against five universities and the HathiTrust last week. Although the reasoning in its complaint is flawed, the Authors Guild successfully prevented access to numerous literary works that were set for digital release.
If you have not had a chance to play with the Library of Congress’ new National Jukebox, stop reading this post and do it now. The Jukebox is an amazing project that makes over 10,000 historic sound recordings from 1901 to 1925 available online. These recordings, which span genres from opera to whistling (its own category) to novelty songs to speeches and everything in between, are fantastic examples of what is possible when you combine rich historical archives and the internet. However, this project comes with a curious asterisk.
Today Judge Chin released his decision in the Google Books case. This is the biggest development in a while in a saga that has been unfolding since 2004. It’s great the the Judge recognized that Google and the Authors Guild (and the rest of the plaintiffs) were trying to use his court to set public policy, rather than to settle a dispute between parties. Hundreds of authors, academics, librarians, companies, and even foreign governments filed objections to the settlement, and we’re honored that the Judge agreed with us that the agreement, if approved, would give Google monopoly control of orphan works. The public deserves access to these works, but it should come through a change to the law, rather than a private agreement that locks in just one supplier.