Nov 14, 2009

So-called Orphan Works in the news, again.

The, Nov. 13, reports
"Terms of Digital Book Deal With Google Revised."

On Friday, Google and groups representing publishers and authors filed a revised settlement in federal court.  The proposed agreement would set up a czarian "trustee" to oversee the redistribution of assets (licenses outside of Google, potential profits)  associated with orphan works previously digitized by the company.

Quoting the Times article:
    The revisions to the settlement primarily address the handling of so-called orphan works, the millions of books whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found. The changes call for the appointment of an independent fiduciary, or trustee, who will be solely responsible for decisions regarding orphan works.  
     The trustee, with Congressional approval, can grant licenses to other companies who also want to sell these books, and will oversee the pool of unclaimed funds that they generate. If the money goes unclaimed for 10 years, according to the revised settlement, it will go to philanthropy and to an effort to locate rights holders. In the original settlement, unclaimed funds reverted to known rights holders after five years.

Most of those who objected to the first proposed settlement (including Microsoft, Yahoo,, and the Open Book Alliance) remain opposed to this second edition.