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Re: Re. Hathi Orphans?

Asking publishers to research old files is asking them to do 
something for which there is no likely economic benefit. 
Publishers are not charitable organizations; they do what they do 
in order to make profits (if they are commercial) or to fulfill 
their missions (if they are non-profit). Doing the kind of 
research you are calling for is no simple, easy, or inexpensive 
task--as those staff can tell you who began investigating digital 
rights for titles they wanted to include under the Google 
Settlement. With that incentive now gone (it would appear), what 
is to motivate publishers to devote time to this task? They would 
not, i can assure you, look favorably upon a proposal to have 
government agents rummaging through their files either!

Sandy Thatcher

At 6:54 PM -0400 10/11/11, <jean.claude.guedon@umontreal.ca> wrote:
>Good point, Sandy. The "let go" makes sense here only if, through
>transfers, mergers, etc., some publishers actually own more than
>they themselves know. And they could not "let go" precisely
>because they would not know.
>This said, if existing publishers provided clear lists of what
>they lay claims to, one could begin to have a better sense of
>what is really orphan. And publishers could still choose to "let
>go" titles that do not offer any foreseeable economic prospect.
>This already happens from time to time. And using books not on
>the consolidated list of publishers' property could be legislated
>to be equivalent to a diligent search.
>The point that should be added is that the murky dimensions of
>orphan works obviously satisfy some of the stakeholders in this
>Who should pay for monitoring the orphan issue? Well, not living
>in the United States, and, therefore, not being particularly
>worried about the size of governments, I have no problem saying
>that this would be a worthy task for a ministry of education, of
>culture, or both. If governments monitor the ownership of patents
>and trademarks, could they not monitor the ownership of
>All this brings us back to the issue of an international
>copyright registry, which would bring us back to pre-1976 times.
>This would be useful.
>Jean-Claude Guedon
>Le lundi 10 octobre 2011 18:55 -0400, Sandy Thatcher a ecrit:
>>  I'm not sure what you mean by "let go" here. Just because they
>>  are orphans, they are, by definition, not owned by any existing
>>  publishing house. They are books whose rights have been
>>  transferred back to the authors or authors' heirs. What do
>>  publishers have to gain by joining in an effort to
>>  systematically identify the status of millions of orphan works,
>>  the vast majority of which they will never have any reason to
>>  use? Given that rights and permissions departments at many
>>  publishing houses are understaffed and overworked, whom do you
>>  propose should do this extra work, and who should pay for it?
>>  There is collaboration on a case-by-case basis among
>>  publishers. The AAUP, for example, has a listserv for rights
>>  and permission staff to share information like this.
>>  Sandy Thatcher
>>>This is a marvellous point. If publishers honestly collaborated
>>>on the task of identifying genuinely orphans, and if they also
>>>made an honest effort to let go what has no obvious economic
> >>value (in other words, get rid of the "just in case" mentality),
> >>we could work together far more harmoniously.
> >>
> >>Jean-Claude Guedon
> >>
> >>PS And bravo to Princeton for the OA policy voted by the
>>>faculty on itself.