May 25, 2022

College Press: "Libraries Rethink Digitization Effort After Authors Sue"

From the Cornell Daily Sun:

“It is not true that the University of Michigan has terminated the orphan work project. We have delayed making orphan works available as we revise our process in light of what we have learned in the past several weeks — which is that the process had made too many mistakes,” Courant said. “We are revising the process, and going forward it is important that we do it right, rather than do it fast.”


Paul Aiken J.D. ’85, executive director of the Authors Guild, said the suspension is a start to appeasing the authors’ societies and individual authors that filed the suit. It does not, however, reconcile all of the accusations of the lawsuit, he said.

“This is about more than just the orphan works,” [Paul] Aiken said. “According to the University of Michigan, they have several million scans of copyright protected books in Michigan and Indiana. The lawsuit is about all of those books, which are unauthorized scans of literary property. The lawsuit is about the essence of copyright — the controlled distribution of work.”


“Michigan’s spearheading the process. Michigan developed the process to examine and identify copyright material for possible orphan works, opening up access,” [Ed] Van Gemert [deputy director of libraries at the University of Wisconsin-Madison] said. “Wisconsin and a number of other institutions — more than the four others listed — lent their support to that activity. They were the only institution that had begun that work at this point. We’ve indicated our support, but we haven’t done it yet.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.