'Orphan Works' Copyright Law Dies Quiet Death
By David Kravets September 30, 2008 | 5:50:25 PMCategories: Intellectual Property
Lost in the House of Representatives' push to pass $700 billion bailout legislation is the so-called Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008.
Late Friday, the Senate passed the measure and sent it to the House, where it landed dead on arrival.
The act changes the rules and reduces and sometimes nullifies damages for infringing uses of so-called "orphaned" works as long as there was a "diligent" effort to locate the copyright owner. Orphaned creative works are those in which the copyright holder cannot be promptly located.
Lobbyists have assured Threat Level that the House, which is mired in trying to broker an economic revival package, won't take up the measure, at least not until after the November elections.
Dozens of copyright groups opposed the measure, saying it encourages infringement. Copyright expert Lawrence Lessig was against it as well. He said the bill was too vague when it comes to defining how "diligent" of an effort is required to locate a copyright owner before a work is infringed upon.
Digital rights groups like Public Knowledge hailed the measure. The group said "it would restore much needed balance to copyright law."