There are potentially thousands of “orphan works” in the U-M Library collection that are in-copyright, digitized, and preserved works in the HathiTrust Digital Library–yet remain unavailable because copyright holders cannot be found or contacted. The Orphan Works Project, which began last month, has just announced that U-M Library will make any identified orphan works available to U-M Library users via the HathiTrust so that they are searchable, viewable, and accessible.
From the press release:
The library’s intent is to foster these works, and make them available so they can be used. Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries, says it is integral to the library’s overall mission to preserve and share the scholarly and cultural record, and is in keeping with the intent of copyright law, which is to promote progress. He also says that this sharing of orphan works falls within copyright law’s “fair use” provision for libraries.
MPublishing’s Copyright Office leads this project, and has begun identifying orphan works and assists with the development of “policies, processes, and procedures that can be used by other HathiTrust partners to replicate a task that will ultimately require the hand-checking of millions of volumes.” This effort will help make scholarly material available in digital format to students, faculty, and researchers.
More information about this process is found on the Orphan Works Project page.