From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The United States’ excessive copyright terms have led to an orphan works crisis in this country. Tens of thousands of books, films, music recordings, and other cultural works across decades have been made completely inaccessible by copyright’s strict monopoly, which can last more than 140 years. That casts a shroud of legal uncertainty over orphan works—works where the author or rightsholder cannot be identified or located—which makes using, preserving, or sharing them risky and essentially renders them culturally invisible and forbidden.
In the midst of this overdue discussion about how to address this issue the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens to undermine Congress’ own ability to create practical solutions to fix it. The leaked TPP’s Intellectual Property chapter has revealed heavy-handed civil and criminal penalties that could go beyond existing U.S. law to treat even noncommercial uses of copyrighted content, including of orphan works, as illegal and criminal.
In light of this, EFF has joined as signatory to a letter that calls on the U.S. Trade Representative not to agree to any provisions in the TPP that could prevent Congress from enacting fixes to address the orphan works problem.
Other signatories to the letter are Authors Alliance, Creative Commons, Knowledge Ecology International, and New Media Rights.
Read the Complete Announcement
Direct to Full Text Letter Sent to USTR