Whose Stuff is it Anyway? Adopting Strategies for US Orphan Works

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The US Copyright Office in the Library of Congress defines orphan works as “copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate.”1 Libraries and archives seek to preserve orphan works for future generations, but these materials are in a precarious state because they cannot be used legally without the risk of incurring statutory fines for copyright infringement.2 This chapter reviews the history of copyright law in the United States and how the extension of the copyright term created and continues to intensify the orphan works problem. Orphan works legislation can provide an effective solution, but to date, Congressional attempts to pass an orphan works bill have been unsuccessful. Portions of US history and cultural memory are at risk, and the American public must fight to reclaim orphan works and restore their place in American cultural memory.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCopyright Conversations
Subtitle of host publicationRights Literacy in a Digital World
EditorsSara R Benson
PublisherAssociation of College and Research Libraries
StatePublished - 2019

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