A few years ago, the Authors' Guild was quickly able to prove that certain Universities (and even a Search Engine!!!) had very sloppy standards in determining in their own favor whether or not a work they would like to exploit for their own benefit was "orphan".
A work is considered "orphan" if the copyright owner cannot be found. It seems to me that it behoves all authors to make sure that they can easily be located, if they wish to benefit from their own labors and genius and creative passion.
Blogs on the subject include:
Quoting from the latter:
"Here’s a six-sentence version for the time pressed: Several university libraries worked with Google to digitize millions of copyright-protected library books. The universities then placed these digital books in an online repository known as HathiTrust and permitted Google to keep a copy of each of the digital books it created. Although HathiTrust does not generally make those ebooks available, in the summer of 2011 it announced an “orphan works” program that would have allowed the downloading of books that the universities deemed “orphans” (books for which the authors cannot be found after diligent search). Authors and authors’ groups sued to stop the program and quickly discovered that many of the so-called orphans were readily findable. HathiTrust suspended the program, promising to restart it after further review. "
Apparently, since then the judge in the case ruled that the use of the copyrighted works was fair use, or transformitive, because it was for data mining and "search" rather than access to the entire work, and the protests by the copyright owners over their works being called orphan were moot because the orphan works project had been abandoned.
Now, Congress is taking a look at orphan works, and there is still time to lodge a comment before the April 14th deadline.