If you follow the legal issues that may have a great impact on your writing career, then you probably know about the history of the Orphan Works Bill which failed to pass last time but has again been introduced. This issue is important. I blogged about it at Performancing and decided to post it here too.
The first alert was sounded by Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today
What is an Orphan Work?
An orphan work is one that is believed to be protected by copyright law but whose owner can't be located. Anyone who wants to reuse such a work can't find the owner to ask permission from or contract with in order to use the piece. Therefore, the piece lands in a legal limbo - no one can use it or reproduce it because they may be sued for copyright infringement.
Supporters of Orphan Works legislation say this isn't what the ideals of copyright law intended. So the Copyright Office wants to draft new rules to make these orphan works available for use so anyone who wants to use them won't incur any legal liability.
The problem is what if you are a copyright owner, alive and well, but for whatever reason can't be contacted as the legal holder of the rights to a work. Can it be declared an orphan and you forfeit your rights? This is just one of the issues that may have to be confronted along with other dangers the Copyright Office may unwittingly create for creative copyright holders.
Draft Letter To Congress
Read more at Jonathan's blog to gain an in-depth understanding of the issue. If you agree with his points, copy the Plagiarism Today Draft Letter, make it your own if you are so inclined, and send it to your Representatives and Senators.