More Little Orphan Works

Here are some more links to pieces discussing the orphan works problem in general along with specific criticisms of the Orphan Works Act of 2008.
Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge, The Orphan Works Act of 2008: Copyright Reform Takes Its First Steps: “Why do we have all of these orphan works in the first place? We have them because starting in 1978, copyrighted works no longer needed to be registered to get the full protection of copyright law. The consequence of this automatic copyright has been that it has become very difficult to find who owns the rights to a particular work. Even when works are registered, sometimes the owner is a company that goes out of business, or an individual who dies, or sometimes the registration is never updated. If you are a person or institution that wants to use a work under copyright but cannot find the owner, even after a thorough search, you are out of luck — current copyright law provides the same onerous damages whether you are a good faith actor or a pirate. And these damages can range anywhere from $750 to $150,000 per infringement. So nobody takes the risk that the copyright owner will show up and drag him to court. As a result, orphan works are relegated to the dustbin of our culture.”
Nancy Prager, Fundamentals of Copyright and the Problem with Lost Owners: unintended consequences: “Unfortunately, the proposed bill fails to offer the original creators of a work any protections related to: 1) the right to make decisions about whether their work can be used; 2) payment; and 3) attribution. In fact, the legislation — which doesn’t even mention creators — could override contract terms that have been spelled out between a creator and a record label.”
Carolyn Wright, Photo Attorney, They Still Don’t Get It: “While it is true that OW does not make registration with the private registries mandatory, registration will be required if photographers want the same protection for their works as they have now. Specifically, for those photographers who register their photos with the Copyright Office, they also would have to register with the private registeries to rebuff a potential OW defense and thus be eligible for statutory damages, the primary weapon that creatives have to fight infringements.”
Donn Zaretsky, The Art Law Blog, On Not Getting It: “There are reasonable grounds for opposing the legislation, and I’ve discussed some of them here before. But it seems pretty clear to me that the creation of a new private registry that would make it easier to find authors who want to be found is simply not one of them.”
Susan Scafidi, Counterfeit Chic, Orphan Works and the Adoption Process: “While many agree that the basic idea has merit, the reality is somewhat more complicated.  After almost two decades of telling creators that they don’t have to do anything to receive protection, is it fair to penalize them for not showing up in the Copyright Office’s searchable records?  What’s a ‘diligent effort’ to find a copyright holder?  What’s ‘reasonable compensation’ if the copyright holder turns up later?  And — perhaps most relevant to the apparel industry — what about the difference between the kinds of works on which it’s easy to display copyright notice (a book, for example) and the kinds of works that often don’t bear the author’s name (like a printed textile that’s been cut and sewn into a garment)?”
Dan Lewis suggests going even further and that online publishers should have bear the burden of taking an action to maintain copyright in abandoned works, Copyright and the Duty to Maintain “In the digital age, with content available over the Web, why put all the burden on the subsequent user of the content? Instead, let’s shift the burden on the rights-holder to, in the very least, maintain his content and/or contact information”
Here’s an Ask Metafilter post looking for assistance with a real-life example of an orphan work issue– a willing licensee unable to find the copyright owner in order to obtain a license, I can has copyright permission?: “I am now in the position where I would like to obtain permission to reuse an image, but am having a hell of a time tracking down the copyright owner.”
Previously: Working on Orphan Works