The US Copyright office is looking for stories about Orphaned works (works where you wish to use them, but the copyright status is either impossible to determine or so complicated as to be enormously costly to determine). As the website Orphanworks.com describes it:
For designers, academics, artists, musicians, and filmmakers, using copyrighted works can be a huge headache. It can be impossible to find out if a particular work is still under copyright or not. And even when people would happily pay to use a copyrighted photo, passage, or video clip, it’s often impossible (or extremely costly) to find the copyright holder. When this happens, everybody loses. Artists can’t realize their creative vision, academics can’t clearly communicate their ideas, and copyright holders don’t get paid. Even worse, important pieces of our culture get needlessly locked away.
The Orphanworks.com site is being ran by the EFF, FreeCulture.org and Public Knowledge, and is basically a clearinghouse form that sends comments directly to the US Copyright office. This is an important request, and the more comments that are sent in the better chance we have of reforming copyright law into something resembling its original purpose:
The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries
(United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8)
But hurry! The deadline for comments is March 25th!