American University

To support the development of best practices for orphan works that will empower libraries, archives, and other organizations in their digitization efforts

  • Amount $189,802
  • City Washington, DC
  • Investigator Peter Jaszi
  • Year 2012
  • Program Technology
  • Sub-program Universal Access to Knowledge

Orphan works are those works whose copyright owners are either unknown or un-locatable after a diligent search. They comprise a significant percentage of all copyright works. (For example, about 50 percent of Haathi Trust's 10 million volumes are estimated to be orphan works.) Because libraries and archives are wary of running afoul of copyright restrictions on orphan works, they often avoid digitizing them or making them available online, thus vastly limiting public access to millions of important books and documents. This grant funds a project by American University law professor Peter Jaszi to develop best practice guidelines for the legal digitization and distribution of orphan works. Funds will support an initial paper explaining the legal obstacles to the dissemination of orphan works, 10 focus group sessions to discuss orphan work issues and policies with relevant stakeholders around the country, a paper outlying best practices, and dissemination activities to publicize those practices to libraries, universities, museums, and other stakeholders.

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