November 20, 2017

OCA To Scan Orphan Works; Publishers Float Orphan Works Solution

By Andrew Albanese

It’s beginning to look like there could be movement on orphan works in 2008 after a coalition of three professional publishing associations released the broad strokes of a statement regarding use of such works. Separately, the Open Content Alliance said it would begin scanning some orphan works for distribution through a groundbreaking digital interlibrary loan system. 
OCA officials said the Boston Public Library, the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, and Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, in conjunction with the Internet Archive, would scan works that were out-of-print but in-copyright and pioneer “a digital interlibrary loan service” around them. “We believe this can be a tremendously valuable way to increase scholarly and public access to hard-to-find resources,” OCA officials said in a statement. “For every librarian who has received a request for a book that is out-of-print (as opposed to out-of-stock), this initiative will provide a mechanism to meet the library patron’s needs.” The announcement marks a departure of sorts, as the OCA has thus far stuck to scanning materials in the public domain or works with permission.
On the O’Reilly Radar blog, the University of California’s Peter Brantley called the announcement “noteworthy.” “[It] could be reasonably understood to be a reassertion of inter-library loan rights under the first-sale doctrine,” he said, noting that the solution required the engineering of “technical and policy systems which acceptably minimize risk of digital abuse.” 
Three trade associations, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM), and the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division (PSP) of the Association of American Publishers, issued a  draft statement. It outlines an emerging consensus among publishers that users who conduct a reasonably “diligent” copyright search would be subject only to “a normal license fee and will not be subject to any statutory, punitive or special fees or damages,” should a copyright holder later emerge. They argue that “a private solution,” as opposed to government intervention through legislation, was the best course of action.

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