Lessig on Orphan Works

Lawrence Lessig has an editorial in today’s New York Times explaining why the copyright legislation intended to solve the problem of “orphan works” will be create far more problems than it solves for both content creators and copyright holders.

Update: I think I may have jumped the gun on this issue. Agnes has a pointer to Gigi Sohn’s discussion of Lessig’s editorial.

Update 2: After reading through the issue further and based on Agnes’s comments below, I’ve decided to remove the link to the above petition. I’m usually with Lessig on most copyright issues, but as Agnes points out, the orphan works legislation actually helps artists. I should have been more attentive when I posted the original editorial and the link to the petition.


  1. Agnes Varnum Said,

    May 29, 2008 @ 3:38 am

    Hi Chuck, I don’t know if this issue is of genuine interest to you beyond blog fodder, but if so, I’d like to direct your attention to the work done by the US Copyright Office investigating the “orphan works” problem. Their study can be found here: http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/

    Not only did they do a comprehensive review of the issues, they have taken significant commenting from the public. The proposed legislation will help artists, and the people who have abandoned their works (the ones who might be potentially harmed, but not, because they can always make themselved known), are not the ones fighting this, so who is? People with other axes to grind on the larger copyright issues.

    The Lessig op-ed is the first time I’ve seen him on the wrong side of an issue from an artists stand-point and its truly disappointing. I hope that you’ll take a moment to read the material and if you are moved, perhaps rescind your call for people to contact their reps against this helpful legislation.

  2. Chuck Said,

    May 29, 2008 @ 11:59 am

    Thanks for commenting, Agnes. Something sounded wrong when I linked to the original Lessig editorial, so I should have done more reading on the issue. Hopefully that’s a lesson learned on blogging something too quickly on my part.

  3. Agnes Varnum Said,

    June 4, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

    I’d be inclined to trust Lessig also, so I can understand this, and of course, you don’ t have to trust me either, which is why I thought I’d direct you to futher reading in case you did want to investigate. Your perspective would be very helpful as filmmakers are now finding themselves having to defend this legislation (though I’m not sure they are paying attention!).

  4. Chuck Said,

    June 4, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

    I agree that it’s an important issue (as is media policy in general). I’ll try to write about it further in the near future, hopefully, once I’m a little more caught up on things.

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