What is an Orphan Work?
An orphan work is one in which the copyright owner cannot be identified or located. Many countries are grappling with how to legislatively deal with orphan works. The Canadian Copyright Act has had a provision in its Act since 1988 to allow the Copyright Board of Canada to provide licences for the use of published works where the copyright holder cannot be located. Pages 273 – 278 of the book Canadian Copyright Law discusses how the unlocatable copyright owner provision works, how to apply to obtain a licence to use a work of an unlocatable copyright owner, and examples of licences granted by the Board.
Unlocatable Copyright Owner Licences
In the Copyright Board’s recently issued 2012-13 Annual Report, it is stated that 24 applications for an unlocatable copyright owner licence were filed with the Copyright Board and eight licenses issued in the fiscal year 2012-13. Licences were issued for the following purposes:
- synchronization, reproduction and communication to the public by telecommunication of an excerpt of a song
- reproduction and communication to the public of posters, periodicals and monographs
- the digital reproduction and the communication to the public by telecommunication of two jokes
- the mechanical reproduction and public performance of a musical work
- the reproduction and the republication on hard copy of the text in a book (this was a renewal of a previously granted licence)
- reproduction and communication of a photograph in a documentary film
- the reproduction, the making available and the communication to the public by telecommunication of three paintings
Do you have a work in which you cannot identify or locate the copyright owner? Apply to the Copyright Board of Canada for a licence!