Action 2: Preserving orphan works and out of print works

What is the problem? Legal difficulties block online access to copyrighted cultural works.

Millions of copyrighted cultural works lie unexploited in libraries and museums throughout Europe. This includes orphan works, where the copyright owner cannot be traced which makes approval for digitalisation and online distribution impossible to obtain. The same difficulties apply to out-of-print material which constitutes some 70% of publishers' collections.

Why is EU action needed? EU-wide framework needed to bring these online and into Europeana

We need clear, Europe-wide rules and an agreed legal framework to enable further digitisation and dissemination of our cultural resources – literary, musical and artistic. These are crucial for the European digital libraries initiative and for the future Europeana – Europe's digital library – which aims to place Europe's vast cultural resources at the disposal of all Europeans.

What has the Commission done so far and what are the next steps?

  • The Commission Directive on orphan works was adopted by the European Parliament in September 2012.
  • The Commission will assist Member States in the transposition of the directive.
  • Together with stakeholders, the Commission drew up conclusions of the ARROW project and launched a follow-up measure ARROW+ which also covers audiovisual works.
  • The Commission continues work on the framework of a stakeholders' forum on the digitisation of out-of-print works

Further info