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Must-Read Blogs:

(Note: this introduces another weekly feature for FRL: Must-Read Blogs.), by library-law lawyer and consultant Mary Minow, is a no-nonsense (but often lightly humorous) must-read blog about legal issues for librarians, board members, library lovers, and other stakeholders in the library community. Through several posts a week, Mary walks us through the phalanx of legal issues libraries face, from the ridiculous (remember the restroom thread?) to the sublime (no one “does” the Patriot Act better than Mary).

Today Mary advises us that “The Copyright Office is asking for public comment on how to address the Orphan Works problem. EVERYONE who is involved in a library, archive, museum or any digitization project should weigh in on this one.”

Orphan works are “copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate.” Anyone trying to use orphan works in the current copyright climate quickly runs into a wall. If we’re going to be able to continue to teach respect for intellectual property, we need workarounds for the absentee content landlords who make it legally impossible to use their works outside of the more stringent fair-use guidelines. With everyone a publisher these days, the orphan issue will become more, not less, problematical, so it’s good to see the feds tackling it. Read Mary’s post about this crucial last-mile issue at and see why I often call her one of the treasures of California librarianship.

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