ARCHIVED: Calls and Letters Needed for the Orphan Works Act of 2006

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AALL has participated for several years with the other national library associations in efforts by the U.S. Copyright Office to address the "orphan works" problem. Orphan works are those for which the copyright owner is difficult or impossible to find when a library or museum seeks permission for copyrighted works.

We were very pleased when the Orphan Works Act of 2006 (H.R. 5439) was introduced in May and quickly approved by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Overall the legislation, as introduced, constitutes a very positive step forward in solving many orphan works concerns raised by libraries and others in the cultural community. The legislative solution includes both U.S., foreign, published and unpublished works. It presents a relatively flexible system for users and institutions regarding what constitutes a reasonable search for orphan works. Since approval by the Subcommittee, some additional changes (e.g. state sovereign immunity provisions) have been proposed to the legislation.

Action Needed:
Unfortunately, opponents of the bill have been very active on the Hill and House action on H.R. 5439 has stalled this summer. The 109th Congress will be coming to a close this fall and so it is crucial that members of the House Committee on the Judiciary (listed below) hear loud and clear that their constituents strongly support the Orphan Works Act.

A sample letter and a list of members of the House Judiciary Committee are included below. If your representative is listed as a member of the committee, please personalize the draft letter below and email it to your representative through the House website at Or, use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to call your representative and urge support for the Orphan Works Act.

Your help on this important issue will make a difference. Thank you very much,

Mary Alice Baish
AALL Associate Washington Affairs Representative


Dear Representative _______:

On behalf of _______, I am writing in strong support of H.R. 5439, the Orphan Works Act of 2006." This legislation, once enacted, will greatly help to make cultural heritage more broadly available to the public. I ask that you support this legislation when H.R. 5439 is considered by the Committee on the Judiciary.

The special collections in our libraries, museums, state and local historical societies, and archives are deep and rich in our Nation's cultural and scientific heritage. These collections include significant amounts of orphan works, works whose owners are difficult or impossible to locate. These repositories with orphan works are not being made publicly available for fear of copyright owners coming forward and demanding unknown amounts of compensation. Despite extensive and costly searches to locate orphan work owners, without a legislative solution, the risk remains too high for _____ institution to make these works publicly available.

Resolving the orphan works problem will present significant new educational opportunities because these works will be publicly accessible and available to students, faculty and the public. Access to these resources supports and inspires new scholarship by making the works of previous generations more accessible and useful to current users.

Thank you in advance for considering this request.



Hon. Sensenbrenner Jr., Chairman, Wisconsin
Hon. Hyde, Illinois
Hon. Coble, North Carolina
Hon. Smith, Texas
Hon. Gallegly, California
Hon. Goodlatte, Virginia
Hon. Chabot, Ohio
Hon. Lungren, California
Hon. Jenkins, Tennessee
Hon. Cannon, Utah
Hon. Bachus, Alabama
Hon. Inglis, South Carolina
Hon. Hostettler, Indiana
Hon. Green, WI
Hon. Keller, Florida
Hon. Issa, California
Hon. Flake, Arizona
Hon. Pence, Indiana
Hon. Forbes, Virginia
Hon. King, Iowa
Hon. Feeney, Florida
Hon. Franks, Arizona
Hon. Gohmert, Texas
Hon. Conyers Jr., Ranking Member, Michigan
Hon. Berman, California
Hon. Boucher, Virginia
Hon. Nadler, New York
Hon. Scott, Virginia
Hon. Watt, North Carolina
Hon. Lofgren, California
Hon. Jackson Lee, Texas
Hon. Waters, California
Hon. Meehan, Massachusetts
Hon. Delahunt, Massachusetts
Hon. Wexler, Florida
Hon. Weiner, New York
Hon. Schiff, California
Hon. Sanchez, California
Hon. Van Hollen, Jr., Maryland
Hon. Wasserman Schultz, Florida