El Reg probably is exaggerating things a bit, but it's probably not too far off.
Basically, if you use an orphan work, you will need to pay a fee to a government agency based on a payment that is "comparable" to some industry average.
You are obligated to undertake a "diligent" search for the copyright holder, but there is no standard for what qualifies as a "diligent" search.
Originally Posted by QuantumIguana
The opposition to orphaned works legislation typically revolves around claims that people are going to use it as an excuse not to pay copyright holders. I think it is a pretty flimsy claim.
Not to photographers.
They are routinely
ripped off by ad agencies and others for commercial use, who know exactly what they're doing. This would basically license massive infringement of photographers' works.
It seems to me that the optimal solution may be to break up orphan works usage by media. E.g. set up this scheme for movies, books and computer games, while not extending it to photos, illustrations and music. A partial solution is better than having the orphan works problem crippled by its inability to accomodate a few mediums.