Microsoft Comments on Orphaned Works and Mass Digitization

This morning the U.S. Copyright Office posted Microsoft’s comments regarding orphan works and mass digitization. Microsoft has worked for orphan works reform for nearly a decade, participating in and supporting efforts by the Copyright Office, Congress and others to devise a solution to this critical problem. 

Orphan works – works still under copyright whose owner is unknown or unidentifiable – remain an issue with significant implications for the development of technology, the fostering of creative activity and the preservation of our cultural heritage. The problem is in need of a solution that both protects rights holders and avoids works lying fallow, thereby maximizing the public benefit of the copyright system.

Microsoft’s comments focus on four specific themes that have developed in recent years and must inform any solution, including:

1. The promise and benefits of mass digitization are enormous.
2. The orphan works problem remains an impediment to mass digitization.
3. Additional solutions to enhance the 2008 legislative proposal may be needed.
4. Any solution must be structured to further the public interest and not merely benefit private parties motivated by self interest.

Microsoft continues to support the Copyright Office and the end goal of resolving the issue of orphan works and mass digitization through a solution that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders, including copyright owners, users of orphan works and the public more broadly.

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