Orphan Works in France, Canada and Beyond

On 12 May 2010, a bill to organise the exploitation of orphan visual works was submitted to the French Parliament.

This timing coincides well with tomorrow’s copyright conference at U of T (see Simon Fodden’s earlier posting of today) where the afternoon panellists will discuss orphan works and mass digitization.


  1. Canada’s current rules on orphan works strike me as very restrictive. Most of the applications under them – a handful a year, if that – are to get permission to use long-dead architects’ plans to do renovations to the houses they designed in the first half of the 20th century.

    Lawrence Lessig has the right idea – let all works fall into the public domain after a reasonable time short of the full term, e.g. 25 years from creation, unless the owner of the copyright pays a token fee ($5.00 or less ) to keep the copyright alive. Over 99% of copyrighted works have no market value after that period and might as well be in the public domain for others to be creative with. The tiny minority that have value can be maintained for their owners in the usual way, if this modicum of interest is demonstrated.

  2. Of possible interest to readers of this post:
    Jeremy de Beer and Mario Bouchard, “Canada’s ‘Orphan Works’ Regime: Unlocateable Owners and the Copyright Board” (Copyright Board of Canada, 01 December 2009),