29 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 292 2017 170,174 volumes reviewed during the granting period, approximately 87,000 of them either had not complied with copyright formalities or had not renewed their registration with the US Copyright Office, something which was required during the period of time the grant was investigating.7 Logic would seem to suggest that some proportion of authors who did comply with the requirements would no longer be extant or available, since such a high rate of attrition exists in the first place. That is, if nearly half of rights holders chose not to or neglected to exercise a simple renewal of their rights during the first 50 or so years of their term, a significant portion of those rights holders would no longer have any material investment in the remaining works. Furthermore, the orphan works issue had already attained national salience, with the United States Register of Copyrights issuing a report in January 2006, which concluded, among other things, that “the orphan works problem is real” and that “the orphan works problem is elusive to quantify and describe comprehensively.”8 There had been some attempts to address the issue, with the Orphan Works Act of 20069 and the more robust Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008,10 which sought to provide a regime where reasonable uses of possible orphan works would be allowed under the US Copyright Act. However, due to the complexity of the issue, the lack of evidence on the actual scope of the problem, and the tangled vested interests of influential stakeholders, these efforts ultimately went nowhere. So, faced with a real and elusive problem to tackle, the University of Michigan Copyright Office got to work, drafting memos for discussion in the fall of 2010, engaging senior library leadership, the office of the general counsel, and senior university leadership. This consultation was thorough and long. It involved a great deal of documentation, refinement, and input from the necessary stakeholders. It was this extensive communication and consultation that enabled the project to get off the ground, and, as discussed below, it was the discontinuation of this communication that helped contribute to the collapse of the project.
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