Posted on February 20, 2008 in IP, orphaned works, Trademarks, use it or lose it by Brian RoweView Comments

“Orphaned Works” comprise the majority of works from the 20th century culture. Most works produced after 1923 are still under copyright, but the copyright owner cannot be found. As a result, orphaned works are not used in new creative efforts or made available to the public due to uncertainty over their copyright status, even when there is no longer anyone claiming copyright ownership, or the owner no longer has any objection to such use.

One possible solution to the orphaned works problem is a “Use it or Lose it” provision: a statutory end to copyright if the work is not made available in commerce for a period of time. In the trademark realm, one loses the rights associated with a mark if they do not use it or if they abandon it. Copyright is granted to bring works to the pubic. Limiting the exclusive rights when works are not brought to the pubic is congruent with Article 1 Section 8 Clause 8: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries; ”

More on Orphaned works at Duke

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