I have been writing a paper on blogs. When I attempted to contact the copyright holders of each blog, it turned out that they were 'orphaned'. This has made getting copyright permission a little tricky.
This has led me to spend more time thinking about copyright in academic works than, I have to admit, would be usual. The use of printed texts in academic works has been relatively straight forward - correct citation, limited amount of text, academic purposes etc. etc. As we move further into online research, the issues are becoming a little more difficult.
There's the issue of orphaned works, described by the Stanford law School Center for Internet and Society as "works whose copyright has not expired but which are no longer available" are a growing issue for those of us whose research focuses on digital texts and technologies.
As well as this, there are issues to do with the different copyright conventions applying (in the non online world) in relation to the use of graphics/pictures than those applying to print. As more and more texts now blend graphic and print to make meaning, the issues of copyright become more pressing.
Kahle versus Ashcroft is an important US based case where copyright extension and renewal are being challenged -- with massive implications for online and orphaned works.
The outcome of Kahle versus Ashcroft has implications for us all. In case you're interested in the background to this case, Brewster Kahle is on a mission to create a digital archive that has been compared to the ancient library at Alexandria.