Orphan books are those books which are not in the public domain, are out of print (oop), but the owner of the copyright cannot be determined, so they cannot be reprinted.
You can read more about the legalities and what it means to us, as a culture, to be deprived of access to these orphaned works, here. It’s a surprisingly readable document.
Two years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with). There are signs,as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.
There’s an 80s (I think) horror movie I must have seen once, with a really creepy seen where somebody says in a really creepy voice, “We’re baaaaaaack.”
Why should you care? Undaunted by its 2011 failure Hollywood and the Big Record Labels are staging the sequel. This time, the bad guys could win. The Huffington Post recently spotted the perps busy inside the federal (perhaps, more aptly, feral) bureaucracy hollowing out the Constitution: “The [Commerce] department’s Internet Policy Task Force last week proposed making it a felony to stream copyrighted works.”
Give the Internet to to Big Business? Hollywood and the Recording Industry appear to have found a compliant handmaiden, Penny Pritzker, the new U.S. Commerce Secretary, to work the inside while they work the outside. Pritzker’s Commerce Department employs, among other things, the risible euphemism of “improving the operation of the notice and takedown system” of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That’s a system which is working rather beautifully for all concerned, content providers and distributors both. Something’s extremely fishy here.
Read the whole thing. Follow the links. And be very afraid. Get involved. Step up. And remember, government is really not your friend. It’s a tool- like a gun is a tool- a loaded gun. In the right hands, it’s a highly effective tool for certain jobs, an absolutely dangerous and irresponsible tool for others.
It is because of the heavy hand of Big Business on the Big Gun that is Big Government that so many excellent, worthy books are ‘orphaned’ and can never be reprinted.
Which makes this story all the more tragic and sickening- Country library system trashes quarter of a million books rather than donating them to the Friends of the Library for fund raising- because…… they lack funding. That makes so sense, and I don’t believe that was why.