[texhax] orphaned works

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Thu Mar 10 17:53:19 CET 2005

If people know of packages on CTAN (or elsewhere) whose
authors have disappeared without leaving a free license
behind (I know there are some), please let me know, if you
like.  I'll accumulate whatever I get and put in a note.
(Or feel free to post directly to the web sites, of course.)


Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 10:07:39 -0500
From: Public Knowledge <pk at publicknowledge.org>


===================== Adopt Orphan Works! =====================

With all of the attention being paid to the Grokster-related
issues, and the broadcast flag, we wanted to make sure you
were clued in about something positive that's going on -- a
policy change you can help ensure turns out with a good

We're talking about "orphan works."  Little Orphan Annie
doesn't count.  We know who drew her.  We're talking about
works that have a copyright, but the copyright holder is
hard to find -- so hard, in fact, that it's not worth the
cost to someone who wants to use the work, say, for a film,
or to put in an archive.  No one abandons a work out of
cruelty.  It's more likely that the work isn't producing any
revenue and the copyright owner just forgot about it.

Now the U.S. Copyright Office wants to find a way to make it
easier for people to have access to orphan works, and they
are asking for ideas.  The Copyright Office started the
proceeding at the request of Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the former chairman and current
senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and
Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Howard Berman (D-Cal.), the
chairman and senior Democrat on the House Subcommittee on
Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

The Copyright Office said it thinks there are a large number
of works out there that qualify for "orphan" status and that
could be put to good use if only there was a way to clear
the rights.  In order to move forward, the Copyright Office
wants to hear from you about experiences you may have had
with orphan works, and any ideas you have for making the
process easier.

Not only does the Copyright Office want to hear from you; we
want the Copyright Office to hear from you.  As PK President
Gigi Sohn said when the Office made its proposal, "We
consider it extremely important, not only for the artists
who are creating new work today, but also for the ideas
created in years past, that orphan works be made as widely
available as possible."

That's why PK, along with our friends at FreeCulture.org and
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, started a new Web site
to help you participate.  On the site, you will find
background on the issue, and a handy form for submitting
your experiences and ideas to the Copyright Office.  Please
take the time to check it out, and tell you friends and
colleagues.  You can do that from the site also.  The
deadline for comments is March 25.

Here's our (PK, FreeCulture, EFF) site:


Here's the Copyright Office notice:


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