Ever since I wrote the piece “orphan work is good for you”, I have been slammed with emails which all pretty much revolved around the same issue : Orphan work bill is a open door for Copyright Infringement and the legalization of free usage.
First and foremost, I keep on refering my readers to a very concise and readable link created by the Copyright Office . In no way do they propose or would facilitate free usage. It is not their intend. It is also quite admirable that they have, and will continue to hold hearings to listen to all and everyones concerns.
But the most important, to me, is to see that Canada has had a Orphan Work bill in effect since 2005. Quite effective, it requires the potential user of an Orphan image, after proving its good faith in researching the copyright owner, to be granted a license by the Copyright office. It has happened only 19 since then. Granted, Canada is not as big as the United States, but 19 is almost not worth a second look.
Furthermore, the Canadian law leaves 5 years after the license has been granted for the owner to retrieve his/her license. It is still early to see if this provision has ever been used by anyone.
The copyright office, and any all serious image licensor know very well that technology can be a very serious ally in copyright protection. Regardless of any petition and whining, the bill WILL pass.
As said before, It will be a great incentive for everyone to respect metadata more seriously and for the photo industry to finally grow up.