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Copyright Issues Become Cloudy When Content Owners Can't Be Found

Publication Date: 
May 29, 2008
K.C. Jones

Professor Lawrence Lessig is quoted in an InformationWeek story about orphan works legislation before Congress:

Stanford University Law professor Lawrence Lessig opposes the legislation. He argued in a recent New York Times opinion piece that: the bill does not distinguish between old and new, or foreign and domestic works; creators who have relied on a 1978 law that protects their work without registration would be exposed to infringement; and the bill would not simplify the process of dealing with orphan works.

He said Congress should tackle orphan works reform the way the country has legislated patents: requiring a $1 registration after a period (14 years) of automatic protection for domestic works. He said foreign works, and those produced between 1978 and now, should be protected without registration, so rights holders aren't burdened with "formalities." He said the law should not apply to images until technology allows for reliable and simple registration and searches.