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> If it's so difficult to determine ownership, shouldn't it be easier to release? Throw it up on a free service somewhere and respond to DMCA takedowns in the rare event the owner shows up out of the woodwork.

You just described archive.org ;)

Actually, archive.org has a copyright exemption from the Library of Congress for certain stuff (of which I think this falls into). http://archive.org/about/dmca.php

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