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Orphan Works initiatives launched on time

Chris JHolland31 October 2014

Yesterday the Intellectual Property Office launched two initiatives to assist with Orphan Works. “Orphans Works” are copyright works, often held in collections of libraries, archives and museums, where the owners of the copyright either cannot be identified or if identified cannot be located. This makes reuse of those works very  problematic, since requesting permission is impossible.

The IPO Licensing Scheme  enables anyone to apply for a licence to use works commercially and non-commercially. We must confirm that we have carried out a “diligent search” in relation to each work we want to use. The licence fee per item for non-commercial uses is set at 10p per item. There is also an admin fee to cover the IPO’s costs, which is a minimum of £20 for one item, rising to £80 for a maximum of 30 items. The guidance from the IPO is helpful and there is further information on Diligent Search. Licences last for seven years and are renewable, but the limited timescale may create practical difficulties.

There is also the EU Orphan Works Directive, administered by the EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market which comes into force at the same time. This is more limited in scope, permitting “relevant bodies” such as publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments, museums and archives to digitise orphan works and make them available on their web sites. The scheme covers most types of  work but excludes stand-alone artistic works, such as paintings and photographs. The IPO is offering a (beta stage) eligibility check.

These initiatives are potentially very relevant for UCL but we need to look closely at the details to determine how useful they will be.