Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Action 2: Preserving orphan works and out of print works

The action aims at creating a legal framework to facilitate the digitisation and dissemination of cultural works in Europe by proposing a Directive on orphan works by 2010, to conduct a dialogue with stakeholders in order to further implement measures on out-of-print works, complemented by databases on the right to information.

The proposal for a Directive on orphan works was adopted by the European Commission in May 2011 and by the Parliament and Council in October 2012. A Memorandum of Understanding on out-of-print works was signed in September 2011.

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. Among them, orphan works are creations whose copyright owner cannot be traced; approval for digitalisation and online distribution becomes then near to impossible to obtain. The same difficulties apply to out-of-print material, which constitutes about 70% of publishers' collections.

Why is EU action needed? An EU-wide framework is required to bring orphan works and out-of-print material 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 available to all Europeans.

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

  • The Commission's 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;
  • The Commission, working with external stakeholders, drew up the conclusions of the ARROW project and launched a follow-up measure ARROW+.
  • A Memorandum of understanding on out-of-print works was signed on 20 September 2011. The Commission continues to work on the creation of a stakeholders' forum framework on the digitisation of out-of-print works.

Further info: Europeana

Progress Report
Status: Completed Lorena BOIX-ALONSO Lorena BOIX-ALONSO