I agree with you about the state go play with an "Orphan Works legislation"-style world situation.
Google Style searching holds lots of promise for helping people ID art. It would be very beneficial if it is an optional system where searchers can use it as a positive result. But it will be very unhelpful if it can be used as an excuse to ignore the author's rights if it is a negative result.
The other question is what will it cost to protect ourselves if we must defend against Negative results? This is not an inconsequential question...
As you say, the need to be vocal is real, due to the lack of properly constructed and enforceable legislation.
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