Europe Pushing For An Orphan Works Law Also
from the will-it-get-done? dept
Many in the US have been pushing for an “orphan works” law for quite some time — which would create an exception for copyright infringement if the owner of a work simply can’t be found. It’s difficult to find any serious reason why an orphan works exception shouldn’t be included in copyright law as written, but there are always some who pop up as being against it — usually because they don’t understand what it is (there are some who seem to be purposely spreading misinformation about orphan works bills). Thus, it continually fails to move forward in the US — even as politicians insist it’s necessary. It looks like Europe may be going down the same route these days, as it’s now looking at creating an orphan works law as well. Now we’ll see if it faces the same misguided opposition.
Still, as William Patry notes in his book, the real shame is that the whole reason we need an orphan works bill in the first place is due to how screwed up copyright law has become since switching from a “formalities” approach to one where everything is automatically covered by copyright. Under the old system (pre-1976 Act in the US), in order to get a copyright, you had to register, and then at certain points, re-register it, to have and keep it covered by copyright. Thus, any such “orphan” works fell into the public domain after a short period of time — and it worked fine. There was no “orphan works” problem, because those works that no longer that weren’t being used for commercial purposes went into the public domain in a relatively short period of time. The most amazing thing, though, is that very few of those supporting orphan works legislation seem to recognize that the whole “problem” is one they made themselves by extending insanely long copyrights to pretty much everything.