Originally Posted by speakingtohe
Of course they can, but it is not always legal, moral or ethical. For one thing you or I or any university, cannot just decide a book is an orphaned work.
A certain effort must be made to determine this. And of course even if the rights holder does not respond, which they are under no legal or moral or ethical obligation to do so, they can still decide to sue you and would likely win.
AFAIK any book that is still in print or sold in bookstores is not orphaned.
Any book still in print is not orphaned. "Sold in bookstores" is not an indication of lack of orphan status; publishers with non-exclusive rights can continue to print while the copyright holder can't be found.
Even public domain books contain some caveats. A forward or illustrations, for example or even formatting can not be included if they were added recently (last 50 years or so) without permission.
I would love to see a lawsuit directed at publishers for claiming copyright on the whole work, when the only part copyrighted is the forward and formatting, on the grounds that they're fraudulently implying that it's illegal to copy the actual text in order to drive up their own sales.
I'd love to see a copyright law that declares that the copyright statement has to say *what* is copyrighted--that a book can only say "copyright by [publisher]" if publisher holds the rights to the entire work; otherwise it'd have to say "forward, table of contents, illustrations, index, and page layout copyright by [publisher]," or something like that.
I'm not sure page layouts can even be copyrighted, for most books. Phone books aren't copyrightable (in the US) because they're just lists of data; non-artistic formatting might be uncopyrightable. House of Leaves
has copyrightable layouts; the average mystery novel might not.