April 3, 2014

IDA and FIND Present their Case on Orphan Works to the House Judiciary Committee

IDA and Film Independent, through attorney Michael C. Donaldson, testified April 2 before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC. Donaldson urged Congress to consider documentary and independent filmmakers when crafting new legislation on orphan works, which are copyrighted material whose owners cannot be found after a diligent search has been made. 

Donaldson backed adoption of recommendations made by the Copyright Office in 2006. That approach called for a case-by-case solution, which would impose limitations on remedies against users of orphan works in the event a rights-holder emerged after the filmmaker had made a substantial search for the owner prior to the use.  Under current law, a filmmaker is threatened with huge damages and injunctive release when they use unlicensed material, no matter how hard they looked for the owner.

Donaldson commented, "Fair use can often provide a partial solution for the documentary filmmaker, but is not available to a feature filmmaker who wants to base a film on an orphaned book or who wants to remake a wonderful, but orphaned film."  His testimony was in support of an Orphan Works bill
that passed the Senate in 2008 but ultimately stalled in the House, and was in line with the comments he and the USC Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic filed in March with the Copyright Office.

Watch Michael Donaldson present this orphan works case to the House Judiciary Committee:

 

Comments: United States Copyright Office, Library of Congress, In the Matter of "Orphan Works and Mass Digitization," Docket No. 2012-12