The following was posted to the Public Folklore list. Sound archivists and
other ARSC members may have some stories that may advance the Copyright
Office's efforts to address the issues related to rights clearances.
===Forwarded message follows===
From: [log in to unmask]
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gigi Sohn
Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 2:33 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Copyright Office Proceeding could ease burdens of rights clearance
I am writing to let you know that the US Copyright Office is engaged in a
proceeding that could have a profound effect on how creative artists,
scholars and librarians do their work. As described in the text attached
below, the Copyright Office is considering recommending changes to the law
that would make it easier to locate copyright holders so that the rights to
their works can be cleared. But before it can do so, it needs a lot of
evidence that there is a problem - in short, it needs your stories.
I would ask that you and/or your institution consider participating in this
proceeding in two ways: 1) please distribute the text below (edited as you
see fit) to your members and ask them to send their stories directly to
the Copyright Office. Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation
and FreeCulture.org have set up a special website that allows your members
to do so quickly and easily: http://www.orphanworks.org, and 2) if your
*institution* would like to become a signatory to a larger filing of
cultural sector organizations, please contact me at the email address
above. It is important for the Copyright Office to hear both from
individuals and institutions.
If you have any questions about this very critical proceeding, please email
me or call me at 202-518-0020. Thank you for your time.
Gigi B. Sohn
ADVENTURES IN LOCATING COPYRIGHT OWNERS
The US Copyright Office Seeks Stories about “Orphan Works”
Have you ever wanted to use a copyrighted work but been unable to locate
the owner to clear the rights? Many artists, authors, musicians,
filmmakers, librarians, scholars and others have run into the same problem
-- a problem that has hobbled their ability to create, innovate, and educate.
Fortunately for you and other creators like you, there’s good news: The
U.S. Copyright Office, encouraged by influential members of Congress, wants
to do something to make it easier to locate copyright holders. But before
the Copyright Office can recommend a fix for this problem, it needs a lot
of evidence that there is a problem in short, it needs your stories.
What Kind of Story is the Copyright Office Asking Me For?
The Copyright Office is seeking submissions (or “comments”) from any and
all individuals and institutions about issues raised by “orphan works.”
(This term means “works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to
locate.”) Anybody can offer a comment, but the Copyright Office has
specifically invited comments from creators who have run up against the
difficulty of trying to clear a potentially copyrighted work -- either for
use in a new creative effort or simply to make the work once again
available to the public. If you have a story about this problem, telling
that story to the Copyright Office is giving them just the kind of
"comment” they need.
What should you include in your story? The Copyright Office has made clear
that comments should address issues such as the following:
• What are the difficulties faced by copyright users in obtaining rights or
clearances in pre-existing works?
• What steps do people who want to use a copyrighted work usually take to
locate copyright holders?
• What types of creators are encountering difficulties and for what types
of proposed uses?
• How often is locating the owner of a copyrighted work a problem?
• Are difficulties encountered even after a copyright owner is identified?
• Should the burdens of locating a copyright holder be reduced for
unpublished works as well as published works?
• Do users of copyrighted works encounter problems with works of any age,
or just older works?
(To read all of the Copyright Office’s questions, click here:
It is important to note that you don’t need to answer all of Copyright
Office’s questions, or even more than one of them. Even more important:
whatever story you tell should simply and clearly describe how the struggle
to locate copyright owners has impeded the efforts of creative individuals
wishing to make works available to the public.
When and How Do I Submit My Story?
Initial submissions in the Copyright Office’s “Orphan Works” proceeding are
due to the Copyright Office no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, March 25,
2005. One can also submit “Reply Comments” to the Copyright Office no
later than 5:00 PM on Monday, May 9, but as the name implies, those
comments should be in response to the comments filed on March 25.
There are a few small technical requirements that must be included in any
submission to the Copyright Office: • All submissions should be addressed
to Jule L. Sigall, Associate Register for Policy & International Affairs.
• Comments should include the name and title of the individual or
organization submitting the comment and a mailing address and telephone
number, fax number (if any), and email address.
• The submission should state whether they are Comments or Reply Comments.
Electronic comments are best (i.e., you can use e-mail), but there are
other ways to offer your stories as well. The Copyright Office lists three
ways to do so:
• Comments may be submitted via email to [log in to unmask] The document
must be sent as a MIME attachment and must be in a single file in either:
(1) Adobe Portable Document File (PDF) format (preferred); (2) Microsoft
Word 2000 or earlier; (3) WordPerfect 8.0 or earlier; (4) Rich Text File
(RTF) format; or (5) ASCII text file format.
• Comments may also be submitted by regular mail to U.S. Copyright Office,
Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024.
Regular mail comments should consist of two copies of the comment, each on
a 3.5-inch write-protected diskette, labeled with the name of the person
making the submission and if applicable her title or organization. In
addition either the document itself or a cover letter must also include the
name of the person making the submission. The document must be a single
file in either: (1) Adobe Portable Document File (PDF) format (preferred);
(2) Microsoft Word 2000 or earlier; (3) WordPerfect 8.0 or earlier; (4)
Rich Text File (RTF) format; or (5) ASCII text file format. If individuals
are unable to submit a comment in electronic form they should submit an
original and two paper copies (3 copies all together) including the name of
the person making the submission and if applicable her title or organization.
• Comments may also be hand delivered to the Public Information Office,
U.S. Copyright Office, James Madison Memorial Building, Room LM-401, 101
Independence Avenue, SE, Washington D.C. 20540.
In addition, a number of organizations, including Public Knowledge, the
Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Culture.org have posted a website
that allows for submissions directly to the Copyright Office. For that
website, click here: http://www.orphanworks.org.
Whom Do I Contact If I Have Other Questions About This Process?
If you have any questions about the Copyright Office proceeding, please
email Alex Curtis, Government Affairs Manager, Public Knowledge, at
[log in to unmask] or Matt Williams, Law Clerk, Public Knowledge,
at [log in to unmask]