History of Orphan Works Legislation: Corporate Theft Video

This is a great video that was made at the time of Google’s last big effort to jam through an orphan works regime.  All artists should be aware of these issues and the way that companies like Google intends to twist the law to their benefit.  Because Google has an extraordiary influence in the UK due to the personal relationship between Prime Minster David Cameron and Rachel Whetstone, a senior Google executive, a new version of the orphan works bill is finding its way through the UK Parliament right now.  See “UK’s Brazen Copyright Landgrab Sneaked Into Enterprise Bill“.

Why is this important in the US and the rest of the world?  Because if Google gets it past the UK Parliament–leave aside that there are significant treaty issues that Google will tie up in litigation for years–Google will start orphaning works through the UK on a grand scale just as they have done with Google Books while that case has been pending.  Britain will become, essentially, a Temporary Autonomous Zone or “pirate utopia” for orphan works.  And it won’t just be Google.

Why is this not a paranoid prediction?  Current Twitter General Counsel, Google’s then-attorney, Berkman Center affiliate, Lessig acolyte, and all round digital sophisticate Alexander MacGilivrey made Google’s intentions on orphan works clear in his 2005 testimony at the Copyright Office the last time that orphan works got traction in the US:

“I would encourage the Copyright Office to consider not just the very, very small scale, the one user who wants to make use of the work, but also the very, very large scale and talking in the millions of works.”

That statement was made on July 22, 2005—almost 4 months to the day before the Library of Congress announced a $3 million gift from Google for the Librarian’s World Digital Library pet project–and the US Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress.