Copyright: "Adverse Possession of Orphan Works"

Katherine M. Meeks, has self-archived "Adverse Possession of Orphan Works" in SelectedWorks.

Here's an excerpt:

This paper proposes that Congress could adapt the real property doctrine of adverse possession to clear the muddy rights to these orphan works. Adverse possession is a mechanism for resolving competing claims to land that arise where an owner has failed to assert his rights for many years, allowing a hostile trespasser to assume control of the land as if it were his own. . . Although Congress would need to modify the black letter test before it could be applied to intangible property, the policy rationale behind adverse possession applies with equal or greater force in the orphan works context. Where the holder of a copyright has failed both to exploit his product and to register his whereabouts with the Copyright Office, such that others might seek permission to use his creative expression, his intellectual property rights should not shackle libraries, museums, or other institutions that perceive a scholarly or commercial demand for the work.

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One thought on “Copyright: "Adverse Possession of Orphan Works"”

  1. I am basing my reply on US copyright law and land court law and recognize that there may be differences based on UK law. There is no inherent right to be able to use someones copyrighted materials if the owner chooses not to make their work available. An entity can not make a competing claim vs the owner on copyrighted materials. If land is registered, Ie: where the owner has declared their ownership through registration, even if the owner can not be found, the courts have traditionally rejected the claim of adverse possession for people who have squatted on the land no matter how long.

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