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Senate Passes Orphan Works Bill

posted by Christopher Howard — Oct 02, 2008

Daniel Barlow reports in the Rutland Herald that the US Senate passed the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act (S.2913); the vote took place September 26, 2008. An “orphan work” is any copyrighted work—book or other text, picture, music, recording, film, etc.—whose copyright owner cannot be identified or located. According to the bill’s author, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), orphan-works legislation in the House of Representative (H.R.5889) will most likely not be voted on until after the presidential election in November.

CAA is working hard to ensure that a final bill will include language that gives professional groups—including such associations as CAA, professional photographers organizations, and others—the ability to define appropriate guidelines for what constitutes a sufficient search for a copyright holder. This in turn will allow organizations like CAA to ensure that artists’ copyrights are protected.

Marybeth Peters, the register of copyrights at the US Copyright Office, released a statement on the eve of the vote explaining the need for orphan-works legislation. For several years, CAA has been actively involved orphan works. For other copyright issues, see the Intellectual Property and the Arts section of the CAA website.