Talk:Orphan works

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Inaccurate Quotation from State Department Report[edit]

I believe the second paragraph of the current article contains a factually incorrect statement. The first sentence of the paragraph ("The USDSBIIP opines that compulsory license schemes...") is correct, although I think it's about compulsory license schemes rather than orphan works. However, the second sentence is false or at best highly misleading when it says, "In the opinion of the USDSBIIP, such schemes are only worthy of consideration when there are more significant concerns than orphan works, ...". I read the original report, and the publication does not talk about compulsory licenses in the context of orphan works at all.

Also, the URL listed for the publication in footnote 1 no longer works. It seems to currently be located at Leovitch (talk) 09:07, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Biased Article[edit]

This article only seems to mention the opposing organizations and their viewpoints. This will only spread the misinformation that is being passed around the Internet. For instance, there are a number of art licensing businesses that support the bill, but only the opposing are mentioned. [1] A list of associations that do support the bill and their viewpoints is needed to make this an objective entry. --Kljdip (talk) 23:32, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

A list would be nice[edit]

This is a very interesting article (I was unaware of "orphan works" before reading it). I think the article would be served well by including a few examples of works that have become orphaned. If there's an online database of orphaned works, that would be a great link to include. 23skidoo 00:26, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

work or works[edit]

The US Copyright office uses the form without the s. --Gbleem 13:21, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Moved "Orphaned works" to "Orphaned work". --h2g2bob 22:04, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
The most common term is actually "orphan works", which is what the US Copyright Office uses. --Otterfan 15:35, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Unsupported Statement[edit]

"The copyright owners are often willing to have their work used with minimal compensation if they are discovered." This is a claim about the intentions of people who by their very definition can't be identified, so until it can be supported by citing a reputable secondary source, it should be removed. --Otterfan 15:18, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Still unsupported, but would this wording open the way for someone to document the idea? "The copyright owners, once discovered, are often willing to grant use of their work for only a minimal fee." TaoPhoenix (talk) 21:42, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Still unsupported, but in my experience, a better word be "rarely". As in, "The copyright owners, once discovered are rarely willing to grant use of their work for only a minimal fee." ButteredToast (talk) 10:47, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Modifying section on compulsory license in the US[edit]

I'm removing much of the section on the compulsory license and transferring the rest of it to the section on the United States. The compulsory license does not create orphan works, but it does address the problem of orphan works in some cases.

Could someone with a better understanding of the statutory license (Section 115(b) of the Copyright Act) add a section?

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was PAGE MOVED per discussion below. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:01, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Orphaned workOrphan works — "Orphan works" is the preferred term, as used by the US Copyright Office (, relevant publications (Chronicle of Higher Ed, Library Journal) and popular press (The Guardian, NY Times). Currently orphan works redirects to orphaned work, but it should be the other way around. Otterfan 15:55, 27 November 2006 (UTC)


Add  * '''Support'''  or  * '''Oppose'''  on a new line followed by a brief explanation, then sign your opinion using ~~~~.
  • Support per nom. Appears uncontroversial.  Anþony  talk  11:51, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Support per nom and Anþony. Andrewa 10:42, 9 December 2006 (UTC)


Add any additional comments:
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


It seems that some artists are pretty mad about this. I think that this article could use some expansion... Esn (talk) 21:50, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Definitely. (talk) 12:13, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
People can get by the act by signing their artwork, which is what artists should do in the first place. Iyeru42 (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 14:49, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes and no. The Holland-Turner comments against orphaned-works cite several very realistic possibilities (such as removal of watermarks) in which a copyrighted work could be wrongly labelled as "orphaned", resulting in an irreperable loss of exclusivity for the owner's rights. --Stratadrake (talk) 18:17, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
What's the status of NPOV on a group such as the IPA? I've heard that they are not unlike ASCAP/RIAA when it comes to distorting the facts... --Nobuyuki (talk) 20:17, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
Corporations can easily crop your photo so watermarks are removed, print and scan your photo so all extra infos are removed. And when you find out and sue them, they can lie that the version they saw is this one, and they've done efforts in searching you. In which case, they'll just need to pay you, not to say in many cases you will not find out at all. Signing is useful.-- (talk) 15:03, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
  • It seems to me people are mad about rumours they heard that aren't true. The definition given for an orphan works on that blog (editorial) piece is completely inaccurate. The article here at Wikipedia was a bit misleading before too. I just fixed it up.--BirgitteSB 16:31, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
Just to clarify, Animation World Magazine isn't a blog. That was a printed editorial. Esn (talk) 00:42, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. It seems he was a bit excited when he wrote that I will send him an email about the inaccuracies.--BirgitteSB 02:21, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
The guy has posted a response, and it seems that he's not backing down. Esn (talk) 01:17, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
What is he even responding to? His refuting unnamed blogs calling him crazy and/or saying any orphan works bill is a myth is irrelevant to the inaccuracies in his editorial. Maybe he will still issue a correction about those problems or his editors when the next issue prints. In any event I not certain this person's opinion is notable on the subject of orphan works and I am certain his understanding is lacking on this subject. The best way to handle this topic in the article would be to use statements by organizations like Illustrators' Partnership of America as well as statements by other organizations with a different advocacy on the issue. But looking at the actual statement by IPA it includes things like "Many potential users of orphan works have asserted that these works have little or no commercial value. While this may be true of real orphaned work, it is not true of the numberless managed copyrights that will be caught in an orphan works net." So we need to be careful of not turning the focus onto these managed copyright some feel are in danger as this is the Orphan Works article. Even the organizations writing against the 2006 Bill acknowledge that there is a situation with real orphaned works. Be careful not to describe arguments against a specific proposed solution as arguments against any solution or arguments against the existence of a problem with orphan works. This article needs to focus on the big picture of orphan works and I am not sure that an internet controversy over some proposed legislation yet to be released in one country deserves much attention. That said I could be convinced, but I would need actual text. not general discussion, to evaluate. Make sure to cover all significant points of view and avoid giving undue weight to any of the extreme hypothetical results being thrown around.--BirgitteSB 03:58, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Law Stub[edit]

Shouldn't this go under the statuary law stubs? Because it affects the entire public. Iyeru42 (talk) 15:30, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Externals links section is growing rather large and a bit off-focus from the article. Let's try to keep this section relevant and balanced.--BirgitteSB 20:34, 30 April 2008 (UTC)


This bill recieved negative reception from the public before it was even passed. As far as YouTube posters & Deviant Artists have put it, this bill makes it so that you no longer have any intillectual property claim to your works unless you purchase a copyright for every single thing. It's also easy to lie about not being able to contact the author. People are afraid that sue-happy companies like Viacom have already taken gross advantage of this & are sueing people for using their own stuff. There are online petitions to get the bill revoked.

Extension of article[edit]

previously the addition to the article was removed as there were copyright concerns. The three added section are not copyright infringement and should comply with the wikipolicy on paraphrasing. If any improvements can be made, please discuss on the talk page. ta--LakeT (talk) 19:14, 31 May 2010 (UTC)


I had come to this article looking for a balanced analysis on this issue and a discussion of arguments on both sides, but what I find here has a very pro "orphan works" bias (in favor of allowing use of works labeled as such without compensation). The article discusses this posistion only as something beneficial, but it fails to discuss some very serious concerns - in particular for amatur content artists who lack the time and resources to actively register and keep watch over every piece of content they create. A big corporation could then use their work and make large profits without the artist receiving any compensation. This article here discusses these sorts of issues, and there are numerous others online which do the same. Hopefully this article can be changed to express a more balnanced view of the issue. -Helvetica (talk) 20:51, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Actively register? You seem not to have heard of the Berne Convention and this makes your whole comment worthless, sorry. Please deepen your knowledge of the topic. --Nemo 18:26, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
I think Helvetica is criticising solutions which would make works declarable "orphan" by a corporation and usable like public domain unless registered in some way. --AVRS (talk) 21:25, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

@Nemo - I'm familiar with the Berne Convention and the current laws. My comments here address the "orphan"/"abandonded" works movement and efforts to *change* copyright laws, some of which, as AVRS noted above, would require more active efforts to attain and/or maintain copyright protection. In particular, the article reports the views of a pro-OW activist who discusses as a problem the fact that "that copyright is automatically conferred without registration or renewal," implying that he'd like to see that changed.

On a personal level, as an amateur photographer, I wouldn't really mind if some obscure blogger used a picture of mine that was circulating on the net, but if a big corporation like BP were to use it in an ad campaign then I would certainly object, and I wouldn't want them to be legally allowed to do that simply because I hadn't gone to the effort of registering my work in some database or because they weren't able to track me down. -Helvetica (talk) 09:43, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Helvetica -- In the United States, there are vast numbers of works published from 1923 to about 1978 which are in practical terms now completely unusable, if you don't want to go out on a limb to expose yourself to potential legal liability. Many people think that this is a significant issue, but Congress (influenced by the lobbying of copyright holders) has refused to provide any form of relief... AnonMoos (talk) 19:32, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
AnonMoos - Sorry for delayed reply. Regarding your point that "there are vast numbers of works published from 1923 to about 1978 which are in practical terms now completely unusable" - The relevant issue here is whether or not this is a problem (or if it's a good thing). On the one hand there's the question of what exactly constitutes "published" and whether the creator of those works might not want them to be used - either at all or in a certain context. (Remember shortly after 9/11 when the CCR song "Fortunate Son" was used in a Wrangler Jeans commercial with a meaning completely opposite of what was originally intended. I know that's not an example of the "orphan works" issue per se, but it should illustrate what I'm talking about.) And of course the other big issue is compensation. Lets say (for example) I shot a film as a student back in the 1960s. I later forgot about film-making and went on to other pursuits in life, but decades later someone goes through the university archives and finds it. It wasn't clearly labeled, so they can't easily find out who made it. Now I personally wouldn't mind if someone used a bit of that footage for some small project that only a few dozen people would see, but if footage were used as part of some big blockbuster film which raked in millions then I would certainly want to retain all rights to my share of royalties! -Helvetica (talk) 05:49, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Copyright collectives seem to be related to this problem, and (some, allegedly) be worse:
  • They are supposed to allow users not to care about a work being orphan.
  • They don't necessarily seek out the copyright holders (e.g., requiring them to have registered) or share the profits fairly.
  • At the same time, they may be making use/works generally less free (in any sense), demanding inappropriate payments from users (e.g., for works that are free to use, or concerts where the copyright holder performed and was paid directly).
--AVRS (talk) 13:20, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

"James Boyle writes in 2008 that over 95% of the twentieth- and twenty-first-century books are commercially unavailable but under copyright"[edit]

What does this prove?
What proportion of these works are commercially unavailable because the publishers do not believe it is cost effective to publish them? They are not orphaned works.
It could be that orphaned works are only a small percentage of these works that are unavailable. That means that orphaned works are only a small part of the problem. And making orphaned works freely available would not significantly improve the situation.
The examples given are historic photos and recordings, these are of academic interest and so copyright is not a problem.
QuentinUK (talk) 22:44, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree. This part regarding Boyle's writing has nothing to do with "orphaned works" and must be removed. Its about the ineffectiveness of the US copyright law under which authors grand their rights to intermediaries and who after a period of time just put the works out of the market because are not profitable while keeping the copyright rights. Reference (while i do not agree with her 100%): Litman, Jessica, Real Copyright Reform (January 14, 2010). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 96, No. 1, 2010; U of Michigan Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 09-018; U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 168. Available at SSRN: (KosMal (talk) 21:11, 10 May 2015 (UTC))
When I came across this article, that sentence confused me as well. I couldn't figure out what the sentence was even talking about, much less how that sentence was even related to the article. Upon seeing this discussion, I decided to remove the sentence.
If a future editor would like to re-add the sentence, feel free to do so, but add context about how it is related to the article itself. (Also, if it is a sentence discussing the US copyright law, maybe it would be more fitting in Orphan works in the United States, if an editor wants to re-add the sentence. JaykeBird (talk) 04:10, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

Wikimedia Self-Promotion[edit]

For some odd reason, a video of a Wikimedia conference found its way in this article. Though the video was about intellectual property, it was nonetheless focused on how it applied to Wikimedia and thus was pretty narrow. Being rickrolled would be considerably more rewarding and informative. I hope I didn't bug anyone with this exclusion. MgWd (talk)MgWd —Preceding undated comment added 19:23, 10 August 2016 (UTC)