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An “orphaned work” isn’t an easily identifiable thing. A work is orphaned when the copyright owner cannot be found after a diligent search. This is not the same as an abandonment of the copyright. In fact, unless the work was created prior to 1923, the work most likely still is under copyright. And this creates a dilemma. A person wishing to use a copyrighted work without permission risks liability down the road. But the alternative is to forego the use, which has the effect of incrementally diminishing our culture of ideas and creativity.

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