Like its American counterparts, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers is concerned about orphan works—copyrighted works whose owners cannot be located—and has issued a position paper addressing the issues surrounding their use.
STM, a U.K.—based trade association, has posted the paper on its Web site (stm-assoc.org). Publishers are concerned that viable orphan works cannot be reused for fear of belated claims of infringement.
Michael Mabe, CEO of STM, said the position paper offers principles that can serve as guidelines for "facilitating the reasonable exchange of rights and permissions" for orphan works. STM's guidelines call for "good-faith searches" for the copyright owner and for "adequate remuneration" to the legitimate owner. But more controversially, the guidelines also call for a "limitation on injunctive relief" against the users of previously orphaned works and the need to take into account the investments of the good-faith orphan-user.
In the U.S., the question of orphan works became more important after Google began its library scanning project—a large portion of the titles it is scanning fall into the orphan works category. To address the problem, Congress introduced legislation last year to clarify the copyright issues around the use of orphan works, but the bill, H.R. 5439, the Orphan Works Act of 2006, failed to pass Congress. Although the Association of American Publishers described the legislation as "not perfect," the organization also said it is a "good beginning" and plans to lobby for its enactment in the new year.