Monday, 9 July 2007

Hope for orphan publications

There's progress that could lead to easier access to so-called “orphan works,” publications in copyright whose owner cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires the rights owner’s permission. Estimates are that these account for a large fraction, possibly even a majority of all publications. Easier access, perhaps through Google Books or Live Search Books, could help your genealogy search. It's often books from smaller publishers and individually published works, including family histories, that become orphans.

A Joint Steering Group established by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) agreed on five principles to be followed by users of orphaned works:

• A reasonably diligent search should be undertaken to find the copyright owner.
• The user of an orphan work must provide a clear and adequate attribution to the copyright owner.
• If the copyright owner reappears, the owner should be reasonably remunerated or appropriate restitution should be made.
• If injunctive relief is available against the use of a previously orphaned work, the injunctive relief should take into account the creative efforts and investment made in good faith by the user of the work.
• The use of orphan works in non-exclusive.

No doubt this will be more grist for the legal mill as different jurisdictions ponder their response. I'm not anticipating quick action, but the agreement is encouraging.

Read the joint press release here.

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