Reform approach

13.38 In formulating its recommendations in this area, the ALRC has had regard to the framing principles for reform for this Inquiry. In particular, the ALRC considers that reform in this area should have the primary aim of making orphan works more widely available in the digital economy, while at the same time acknowledging and respecting authorship and creation.[57] Maria Pallante, Director of the US Copyright Office has argued:

We seem to have general agreement that in the case of a true orphan work, where there is no copyright owner and therefore no beneficiary of the copyright term, it does not further the objectives of the copyright system to deny use of the work, sometimes for decades. In other words, it is not good policy to protect a copyright when there is no evidence of a copyright owner.[58]

13.39 At the same time, any orphan works solution also needs to ensure that identified copyright holders are adequately compensated. Any solution should also be efficient to minimise any transactions costs and reduce unnecessary burdens on users and in particular, public cultural institutions for whom orphan works are a particular problem.

13.40 Lastly, any solution should be cost-effective and compliant with Australia’s international obligations.