The University of Michigan Library’s Copyright Office is launching the first serious effort to identify orphan works among the in-copyright holdings of the HathiTrust Digital Library, which is funding the project. 

The vast majority of HathiTrust’s holdings are in-copyright (73%). An unknown percentage of these are so-called “orphans,” in-copyright works whose owners cannot be identified or located. The lack of hard data on the number of orphans in the corpus is a significant impediment to the creation of a legal or policy-based framework that would allow scholars and researchers to access these works.