Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Orphan Works Revisited

In 2008 we covered the proposed Orphan Works Bill in two blog posts: "Orphan Works Bill" which covered what it is and how it will affect writers and artists, and "Orphan Works Bill Update", which presents a speculative case study on how it could affect a visual artist. The Bill was temporarily abandoned by Congress in 2008 to the relief of many authors and artists but has just reared its ugly head again. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has also been on the case and has just reported a summary of its findings to Australian literary creators. Here's some of what the ASA has had to say:

  • Wednesday evening, US District Court Judge Harold Baer ruled that the mass book digitisation program conducted by five major US universities in conjunction with Google is a fair use under US copyright law. Under that program, Google has converted millions of copyright-protected library books into machine-readable files, duplicating and distributing the digitised books to university libraries. The universities pooled the digitised books into an online database organised by the University of Michigan known as HathiTrust.
  • We disagree with nearly every aspect of the court's ruling...

To read more about it – especially the section about books that were classified as "orphan works" when the author is still very much alive in Australia, check out The ASA Bulletin – October 2012. Seems like the entire idea is rather flawed and extremely suspect.

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