Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn spoke about the orphan works legislation at the Eighth Annual Intellectual Property Symposium today. The text of her speech is here. InformationWeek has a summary here.
Among other things, she addresses what she calls "the fear, uncertainty and doubt" being raised by opponents of the bill, including the following:
"Myth #4: The bills would mandate registration of all visual art in expensive, private registries, and not registering a work would automatically orphan it.
... [T]he bill provides for the creation of marketplace-based visual registries that would make it easier for users to find the owners of visual art. And let me emphasize that having users find owners is the real goal of this legislation. But while it might be wise for a visual artist to make use of the registry, nothing requires her to do so. Nor does failure to place a work in a visual registry automatically orphan a work. A user would still have to do a diligent search to find an owner, and might be able to do so without the help of the visual registry."