I have a category of bookmarks I call Society and Culture. Usually links that get tagged this way for my use are political in nature, or social occurrences that likely would not or could not have occurred in another era. Examples of the former are the recent report from the New York Times titled One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring, and another NYT’s article The Limping Middle Class.
Today though, I added a bookmark in this group to a story about Babar, that grey elephant I loved so much as a child. In reality, Babar’s reality that is, Barbar is an orphan. And in this time in our world, Barbar and other published works in a certain nether-land are about to become orphan works.
This story is about orphan works in the publishing world. And Barbar is about to become an orphan again, or at least was on the list to become an orphan work. Given that Barbar’s heirs (the author that is) are still very much alive, The Story of Barbar has been pulled from a proposed orphan works list. Is this really fair to authors and publishers? That a work still in-copyright but for which rights holders cannot be found can be declared an orphan work with a limited time frame. Perhaps an author or publisher wishes to remain anonymous or unreachable for personal reasons. Can or should their works really become “public”? Maybe more works should be declared orphan works so that more people can have access to and enjoy them.