Orphan works do not exist
An orphan work is a creative work for whom the identity of its author is ignored and who has been impossible to be found.
In other words and in more practical terms, an orphan work is any of our photographs that has not a clear and convincing attribution so that we are both the authors of the image and its copyright owners. As the new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act recently passed by the UK government points out, any creative work that is considered orphan may be used for free without its author receiving any monetary compensation or recognition for his creation.
This would apply to any of the photographs published in social networks that we photographers use to broadcast and advertise our work without having included in them an easily noticeable watermark or having carefully written all necessary IPTC fields and metadata with our names, contact information and copyright and that anyone who would usurp our creation could use for free without any legal restriction or impediment.
The fact is that many social networks eliminate our metadata when we upload photographs to their servers -always read the Terms of Service- and that it is more than likely that this legislation will be imitated in many other countries leaving us as image creators soon in a very difficult position on a near future.
I guess that we photographers will need to more spiritedly reclaim our role as professionals, as authors and artists to receive from our legislators the consideration that our creation works deserve because, after all, behind our cameras there are thousands of people photographing the world each one of us differently and in an unique and unrepeatable way.
There is always a living person behind the camera and therefore, no work is never orphan.
I've been through something similar to this once here in Spain, by the attempt to reduce the creative work of photographers to a simple mechanical action to purely deny them both their rights as image creators and their copyrights.
But this attempt failed, and the truth is that we still breathe and that we want our rights to be respected.