Orphan Works Project

What is the Orphan Works Project?
Project status update, July 2012: The process of identifying orphan works from the specified period (that is, works published in the US between 1923-1963) continues. There are no plans to provide access to these works.

The Orphan Works Project is being led by the Copyright Office of the University of Michigan Library to identify orphan works. Orphan works are books that are subject to copyright but whose copyright holders cannot be identified or contacted. Our immediate focus is on digital books held by HathiTrust, a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future.

This effort is funded by the HathiTrust and is part of U-M Library's ongoing efforts to understand the true copyright status of works in its collection. As part of this effort, the Library will develop 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 research project is aligned with the larger Copyright Review Management System (CRMS), a U-M Library-based project that is funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. CRMS works with partners including Indiana University, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin-Madison to identify the copyright status of books published in the US from 1923 to 1963. Among the more than 100,000 works thus far examined by CRMS, approximately 46% have been determined to be in copyright. The Orphan Works Project will initially focus on works that CRMS has determined to be protected by copyright.

For more information on the project, please see the links on this page, or contact Melissa Levine, Lead Copyright Officer,University of Michigan Copyright Office at copyright@umich.edu

Page maintained by Melissa Levine
Last modified: 02/17/2014