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June 07, 2021 About the EUIPO

The Out-Of-Commerce Works Portal goes live


 

‘Forgotten stories can once again become our shared history’

A new Out-Of-Commerce Works Portal has been launched today by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Out-of-commerce works are works, such as books, films, or visual works that are still protected by copyright but are no longer or have never been commercially available.

European libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage institutions currently contain millions of out-of-commerce works in their collections. They still hold great value for research or education purposes or are simply entertaining.

For many years, Europe has supported initiatives for better online access to Europe’s rich cultural heritage, by using modern digital techniques. However, cultural heritage institutions’ mass digitisation projects have often not been possible due to legal difficulties in obtaining all the necessary prior authorisations of the individual rights holders (rights clearance).

In order to help cultural heritage institutions fulfil their mission to benefit European culture, Directive (EU) 2019/790 1 introduces a legal framework to support cultural heritage institutions in the digitisation and cross-border dissemination of out-of-commerce works.

Information about out-of-commerce works has to be recorded in a public single online portal, the creation and management of which has been entrusted to the EUIPO.

The portal, which is being launched today, is the main publicity measure of this new regime. The main purpose of the portal is to provide access to information about the ongoing and future uses of out-of-commerce works, as well as to make it easier for the rights holders of these works to exercise their rights. The regime will complement the measures already in place for the use of orphan works at European level (see notably the Orphan Works Database).

Cultural heritage institutions across Europe are digitising more and more of their collections and making them available online. However, it has been observed that collections comprising works from the 20th century are available online to a much lesser degree than collections from the periods before or after the 20th century. This effect has been called ‘the 20th century black hole’ 2.

It is expected that the new out-of-commerce regime will unlock great opportunities for the digitisation and dissemination to the public, across Europe, of out-of-commerce works held permanently in the collections of cultural heritage institutions, so that forgotten stories once again can become our shared history.

For more information, please visit the Out-Of-Commerce Works webpage.

 

 

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1 Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC.


 
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