Thursday, June 05, 2008

BPN 1119 Agreement on orphan works

An agreement on copyright was signed by libraries, archives and right holders, in the presence of Commissioner Viviane Reding. The Memorandum of Understanding on orphan works will help cultural institutions to digitise books, films and music whose authors are unknown, making them available to the public online.

This Memorandum is a major step for bringing Europe's rich literary and audiovisual heritage online, as it deals with the issue of orphan works – books, films, photographs or songs for which it is impossible to identify or locate the rightholders. As a consequence, rights cannot be cleared and therefore the works cannot be digitised or made available to the public. It clarifies how searches for rightholders have to be handled for libraries and archives and representatives of publishers, photographers, authors, record and film companies. Orphan works represent a substantial part of the collections of Europe's cultural institutions: for example, the British Library estimates that 40 percent of its copyrighted collections are orphan works. 50,000 requests were also made for re-using orphan works in Europe's film archives according to a recent survey from the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes.

In parallel, the High Level Group on Digital Libraries, chaired by Viviane Reding, adopted practical guidelines for partnerships between cultural institutions and private organisations. These partnerships such as the existing collaboration between the British Library and Cengage Gale on historical newspapers – are essential to provide funding and expertise for digitisation projects.

In relation to copyright issues, the High Level Group adopted a final report in which it endorsed a new model license for making works that are out of print or out of distribution accessible for all on the internet. It also gave guidance on copyright issues related to the preservation of web-content by cultural institutions. In the area of scientific information, publishers and scientists presented the progress of a large scale project on the effects of open access to scientific journals.

Blog Posting Number: 1119

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