Society of American Archivists Develops Best Practices for Orphan Works

Historians in the News

CHICAGO—The Society of American Archivists (SAA) has issued “Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices,” a 16-page report that provides what professional archivists consider the best methods to use when attempting to identify and locate copyright holders. The statement, which primarily focuses on unpublished materials because they are usually found in archives, is available on the association’s website as a PDF at http://www.archivists.org/standards/.
“Orphan works” is a term used to describe the situation in which the owner of a copyrighted work cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires permission of the copyright owner. Eight archivists and a recognized legal expert in intellectual property and copyright law developed the statement, based upon their experiences researching copyright status.
“We created this statement to provide archivists with a framework to discover what materials they hold are truly orphaned works, and in the hopes of empowering them to provide wider access and use of those materials as a result,” said Heather Briston, chair of SAA’s Intellectual Property Working Group.
The primary authors of the statement include Briston (University of Oregon), Mark Allen Greene (University of Wyoming), Cathy Henderson (University of Texas, Austin), Peter Hirtle (Cornell University), Peter Jaszi (American University) , William Maher (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Aprille Cooke McKay (University of Michigan), Richard Pearce-Moses (Arizona State Library), and Merrilee Proffitt (OCLC). Financial and administrative support was provided for this project by OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership.
More information on SAA’s Intellectual Property Working Group can be found at: http://www.archivists.org/saagroups/ipwg/.
Read entire article at The Society of American Archivists (homepage)

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