As part of the clinic’s continuing work on the orphan works problem, we are excited to announce that Michael Donaldson of Donaldson + Callif, LLP, long-time friend of the clinic, former President of theInternational Documentary Association (IDA), and pro bono outside counsel for Film Independent(FIND), recently testified to the Committee of the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet regarding the issue.
Clinic members Patrick Boyle and Patrick McCormick helped Mr. Donaldson prepare his testimony, bringing to bear their experience testifying at the Orphan Works Roundtable Discussions held earlier this month at the U.S. Copyright Office. This proved to be very valuable as the committee members asked several questions that raised issues discussed at the Roundtables.
Donaldson’s testimony included poignant stories from his clients who have been plagued by the orphan works problem. He used these stories to explain how the orphan works situation negatively affects filmmaker clients and why a solution is desperately needed. He also explained the proposed solution that IDA and FIND support, which would protect rightsholders while permitting uses of orphan works for creators and users who have conducted a good faith diligent search for the owner.
We congratulate Donaldson on an excellent job and we are confident that his testimony will be part of the process for finding a workable solution to the orphan works problem.
This week, Patrick Boyle, Patrick McCormick and Professor Lerner of the USC IP & Tech Law Clinic spoke at the Library of Congress on behalf of the International Documentary Association and Film Independent at a series of roundtable sessions hosted by the United States Copyright Office regarding the orphan works problem in copyright.
Orphan works are works that are clearly protected by copyright but for which the owner cannot be identified or located. Independent documentary and narrative filmmakers often seek to create new works that incorporate other works, but cannot find the rightsholder, and when that happens, that can prevent the use altogether.
At these roundtables, we spoke about a solution that would protect rightsholders while permitting uses of orphan works for creators and users who have conducted a good faith diligent search for the owner. With such a solution, filmmakers such as members of IDA and FIND–along with many other communities–would be able to make their films, find more rightsholders, and when no rightsholder can be found, use orphan works without fear of crushing liability or an injunction that would stop the project in its tracks.
You can read more about our work on the orphan works issue here: http://iptlc.usc.edu/index.php/clinic-submits-reply-comment-on-orphan-works-and-mass-digitization-to-u-s-copyright-office/
Read more about the roundtable here:http://copyright.gov/orphan/
Today, the USC Intellectual Property and Technology Clinic submitted a reply comment to the Copyright Office on the issue of orphan works and mass digitization on behalf of the International Documentary Association, Film Independent, the National Alliance For Media Arts and Culture, Kartemquin Educational Films, Inc., Glen Pitre, and the Tallgrass Film Association. The reply comment emphasizes the need for a comprehensive orphan works solution across all types of works and elaborates on the provisions necessary to adequately protect the interest of all rightsholders, enable potential users to bring critical historical and cultural works to light for the first time, and limit the creation of new orphan works in the future.
We thank the Copyright Office for providing us the opportunity to express our position on this issue and we respectfully urge the Office to continue moving forward on this important issue.
The comment can be downloaded at http://iptlc.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Orphan-Works-Reply-Comment-IDA-et-al.pdf
In October of 2012, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a Notice of Inquiry regarding Orphan Works and Mass Digitization. In response to this inquiry, the USC Intellectual Property and Technology Clinic filed a comment on behalf of the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Educational Films, and the Independent Filmmaker Project, along with other organizations and individuals in the independent and documentary filmmaking industry.
An orphan work is a work protected by copyright for which the rightsholder cannot be identified or located. When filmmakers wish to license this material to use in their films, they will be unable to contact the rightsholder to obtain permission. Without authorization from the rightsholder, filmmakers are deterred from using such materials because there is a risk that the rightsholder will resurface once use has commenced and may take legal action against the filmmaker for copyright infringement.
The comment articulates the need for orphan works reform to allow independent and documentary filmmakers to draw upon the rich cultural and historical content that is becoming more readily accessible due in part to the growing ubiquity of digital technologies. We urge the Copyright Office to explore solutions to the orphan works problem that will enable filmmakers to make responsible and valuable uses of orphan works.
The comment can be downloaded at http://mylaw2.usc.edu/users/jlerner/orphan_works_comment.pdf