Skip to main content

Rescuing Orphans: Can Congress Balance the Public Good and the Rights of Artists?

May 28, 2008

Copyright law is arcane enough, but a debate bubbling in Congress and among artists, libraries, and museums is important despite its obscurity.

The issue is "orphan works" - writing, photographs, paintings, and music whose copyright-holders are difficult (or impossible) to locate or contact.

Corynne McSherry, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the result is that a library or museum will not make the material available to the public because of the potential penalty of statutory damages - which have a ceiling of $150,000 per copyrighted item.

A museum is "worried that it might get sued," McSherry said. "So the material stays locked away."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
River Cities' Reader

Related Issues

JavaScript license information