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Academic Articles

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The Role of Orphan Films in the 21st Century Archive

Dan Streible


Well beyond the study of film history, advocates for public rights in digital culture ( have also adopted the orphan rubric, seeing it as a key to moderating the excesses of copyright and intellectual property law. NFPF's broad valorization of films "outside the scope of commercial preservation," including "documentaries, 'silent' movies, newsreels, ethnic films, avant-garde works, home movies, animation, anthropological footage, industrial films, and other independent works" (, continues to have a salutary impact for scholars as well as archivists.

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