Congress is once again considering legislation to deal with the problem of orphaned copyright works-- those works that are still under copyright but where the copyright owner may be impossible to identify and locate. Both the House and Senate have introduced versions of orphaned works legislation. Here are some resources and information.
HR 5889 Orphan Works Act of 2008.
S. 2913 Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008.
The Copyright Office has a page on the Orphan Works issue.
The House Judiciary Committee held hearings
on Promoting the Use of Orphan Works: Balancing the Interests of Copyright Owners and Users in March with testimony from Marybeth Peters (Register of Copyrights, U.S. Copyright Office), Allan Robert Adler (Vice President of Legal and Governmental Affairs, Association of American Publishers, Inc.), Corinne P. Kevorkian (President and General Manager, Schumacher, A Division of F. Schumacher & Company), Karen C. Coe (Associate Legal Counsel, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), Victor S. Perlman (General Counsel and Managing Director, American Society of Media Photographers, Inc.), Maya Gura (Director of Marketing and Sales, PicScout).
Lawrence Lessig in the New York Times Little Orphan Artworks: "Congress could easily address the problem of orphan works in a manner that is efficient and not unfair to current or foreign copyright owners. Following the model of patent law, Congress should require a copyright owner to register a work after an initial and generous term of automatic and full protection."
Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge responds to Lessig's op-ed, Searching for the Possible in the Orphan Works Debate, "After 40 years of uninterrupted strengthening and lengthening of copyright laws, we have before us an opportunity for significant reform. What makes this legislation a no-brainer is that with the exception of a handful of small copyright holder groups (who, to my chagrin, have been very effective), there is near unanimous agreement that an orphan works solution is a good idea. There are still some kinks to be worked out in the legislation, but the framework underlying them is basically sound."
Edward Winkleman, Reframing the Arguments on the Orphan Artworks Bill