What are orphan works?
They are works such as books, newspaper and magazine articles and films that are still protected by copyright but whose authors or other rightholders are not known or cannot be located.
Orphan works are part of the collections currently held by European libraries, museums, archives, film and audio heritage institutions, and public service broadcasting organisations. The lack of data on their ownership has often constituted an obstacle to their digitisation and making them available online.
Directive 2012/28/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on certain permitted uses of orphan works sets out common rules to make digitisation and online display of orphan works legally possible. Under Article 3(6) of the Directive 2012/28/EU, EUIPO is responsible for the establishment and management of a single publicly accessible online database on orphan works.
More information on orphan works is provided on the European Commission's website.
The Orphan Works Database
The Orphan Works Database provides information related to orphan works contained in the collections of publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments and museums, as well as archives, film or audio heritage institutions and public-service broadcasting organisations established in the Member States.
The database enables beneficiary organisations – such as those mentioned above – that want to make use of orphan works in digitisation projects to have easy access to relevant information about them. These organisations shall also record works in the database that they have identified as orphan during diligent searches.
Information received from beneficiaries is forwarded to EUIPO by the competent national authority designated in each Member State, e.g. Ministry of Culture or National IP Office. Only after EUIPO receives the information about orphan works, does that information become accessible in the database.
The database covers information about a wide range of works first published or broadcast in the EU Member States:
- Works in the print sector, such as books, journals, newspapers, magazines or other writings;
- Cinematographic or audiovisual works and phonograms;
- Unpublished works under certain conditions;
- Works embedded or incorporated in other works or phonograms, e.g. pictures, photographs;
- Partial orphan works, i.e. those for which some right holders have been identified and located and have given permission to use the work in relation to rights they hold.
The database allows rightholders to search for orphan works, obtain contact information of the organisations using them, and put an end to their orphan work status. It also provides beneficiary organisations and competent national authorities with reports and statistical data on orphan works that have been recorded in the database.
If you want to use the Orphan Works Database and you need help or further information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tool for Extracting Data
The EUIPO has developed a tool for extracting data from the MARC standard to facilitate the data extraction and upload process. This tool allows beneficiary organisations to extract information contained in specific data fields used in the MARC standard and upload this information into the Orphan works database. The tool is available to registered users of the Database upon request. The request can be submitted to the following e-mail address: email@example.com
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The Orphan Works Survey
Through its Observatory, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is carrying out a survey on orphan works.
The EUIPO has been entrusted with the task of setting up and managing the single European Orphan Works Database according to the requirements of Directive 2012/28/EU.
This online survey is being conducted with the aim of gathering information on the use of the Orphan Works Database, as well as identifying what measures could be taken to ensure that the benefits of the orphan works system are fully realised.
The online survey consists of various sets of questions for three types of stakeholders:
- beneficiary organisations of the Orphan Works Database, i.e. publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments, museums, archives, film or audio heritage institutions and public service broadcasting organisations;
- competent national authorities for the Orphan Works Database under Directive 2012/28/EU;
- other stakeholders, that is, any other organisation or individual with an interest in the orphan works system.
At the beginning of the survey, you will be asked to select which type of stakeholder you represent. If you represent several types of stakeholders, for example a beneficiary organisation and a competent national authority, you may provide answers to the survey more than once.
If you would like to view all the questions before starting to fill in the survey online, the questionnaire can be consulted here. (link updated)
The survey contains multiple-choice and open questions. The information collected through the survey will be summarised in a report, which may be published. Information on the respondents will remain confidential.
The survey is available in English and can be accessed here. (We recommend using the Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome web browser for the best possible experience.) You can provide your responses in any of the official EU languages.
The EUIPO has been contacted by creators, in particular, photographers, who, individually, expressed interest to contribute to the survey.
As the intent of the survey is to gather information from all stakeholders concerned, the EUIPO invites individual respondents to provide replies to the questionnaire (this can be done using the survey section “Other stakeholders” which has been slightly modified).
For this reason, the deadline to provide replies to the survey is extended to 23 of June 2017. This extension applies to all types of stakeholders.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Europeana.eu is an internet portal that acts as an interface to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe. The portal provides free access to a wide array of digital content from different types of heritage institutions - libraries, museums, archives and audiovisual collections.
The EU-funded project FORWARD aims to create an EU wide, standardized system to assess and register the rights status of audiovisual works with a focus on orphans. Once in place, FORWARD will provide technical solutions for supporting the diligent search for audiovisual orphan works.
Arrow is a tool to facilitate rights information management in digitisation projects involving text and image based works. Arrow infrastructure allows streamlining the process of identification of authors, publishers and other rightholders of a work, including whether it is orphan, in or out of copyright or if it is still commercially available.