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On infringements of intellectual property rights

Promoting and supporting intellectual property value


Orphan Works Database

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  • Unpublished works under certain conditions;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 observatory.orphanworks@euipo.europa.eu

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: observatory.orphanworks@euipo.europa.eu

Orphan works brochure ShowHide

Related content


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.