Missing or unlocatable copyright owners — What’s the difference?

Missing or unlocatable copyright owners — What’s the difference?

Every year, Copibec issues a notice about copyright owners who’ve gone “missing.”  

At the same time, we also ask our readers to help us identify copyright owners who are “unlocatable.”

What’s the difference between these two groups of copyright owners and how are they related to “orphan” works?


1 — Missing

Most of the missing copyright owners are not actually completely unknown to us. Sometimes we know a few facts about them but that information is incomplete.

For example, we may not have valid contact information for them.

These individuals are often still alive but have not registered with Copibec. They need to complete their registration so we’ll be able to pay them royalties.


Why are we looking for them?

Copibec negotiates reproduction licences and collects royalties from a wide range of individuals and organizations that make use of copyright-protected content.

We’re looking for the copyright owners whose content has been used so we can pay them the royalties they’re entitled to.


What do we mean by copyright owner or rightsholder? 

A copyright owner or rightsholder can be anyone who contributed to a published work.

Some of those people don’t consider themselves authors or aren’t familiar with Copibec. Here are a few examples:

  • •        University professor
  • •        Contributor to guides or textbooks
  • •        Coach who publishes articles in magazines
  • •        Specialist in another field who contributed to a written work

Others don’t know that excerpts from their content have been reproduced and they’re not aware that Copibec is holding royalties for them.

In any case, these copyright owners have simply not completed their registration with Copibec.


2 — Unlocatable

The concept of an unlocatable copyright owner is related directly to the definition of an orphan work.

An orphan work refers to published content whose copyright owner can’t be located.

In other words, we’re not able to associate the copyright owners with the content: we simply don’t know who they are!

In some cases we may have pieces of information such as the author’s name but that’s all.


Dead end

In fact, many of the unlocatable copyright owners are deceased.

What’s more, we’re unable to contact their estate and the copyrighted content is not yet in the public domain.


Copyright Board

The Copyright Board is responsible for handling requests to use copyrighted content whose copyright owners are unknown.  

In those situations, the Board does exhaustive research to try to find the relevant individuals. It can be a long, painstaking process. If no information is found, the Board issues a licence to allow the content to be used, and royalties are then collected.

Since we have very little information about those copyright owners, we’re not able to get in touch with them to give them their royalties.


5 years to find them

The royalties we collect for orphan works are kept in reserve and we list the names of those individuals for a five-year period.

Follow this link to help us find those unlocatable copyright owners!