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Publishing associations make rules for using orphan works

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Three trade associations have released a joint statement that sets out conditions for using copyright works where the owners of the material (so-called ‘orphan works’) cannot be found. This ‘safe harbor’ statement advises how such content can be included in new works, course-packs, and compilations.

Stakeholders around the world are currently debating whether orphan works should be dealt with as a matter of a copyright exception, a reduction in copyright penalties once a ‘parent’ is located, or a blanket collective licence. The view of the organisations is that private market solutions are almost always to be preferred, since they are the most likely to provide tangible results.

The safe harbor document outlines a need for a viable and diligence search request, and identifies resources that should be consulted, including a list of journal publisher imprints that the associations have compiled. Users who conduct such a search where the owner of such a work is later identified, will be subject only to a normal licence fee and will not be subject to any statutory, punitive or special fees or damages.  

The associations - The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) and the Professional/ Scholarly Publishing Division (PSP) of the Association of American Publishers – believe that this will significantly increase the ability of scholarly users, researchers and writers, to utilise the rich resources of scholarly and academic journal content for the benefit of all. A significant number of ALPSP, STM and PSP members have agreed to the safe harbor principles, and it is hoped many more will join shortly.