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The “orphan works” problem has preoccupied the Copyright Office — as well as authors, publishers, libraries, scholars — for years. The “orphan works” problem has obsessed the Copyright Office — as well as authors, publishers, libraries, scholars — for years.

“Orphans” are the hundreds of millions of books, photographs, films, and other creations whose creators are unknown or can’t be located, but whose copyright protection is still in place. Because no one can figure out who has the right to give permission to use these works, they cannot be used.

In June, the U.S. Copyright Office announced a widely criticized proposal to create a licensing system to clear these rights, with the goal of facilitating full-text access to copyrighted works for nonprofit and educational uses. The Copyright Office is currently soliciting comments on its proposal.

The Copyright Office needs to hear why its proposal is a bad idea. Comments are due to the Office by October 9, 2015.

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