The UK's Intellectual Property Office has opened a consultation into orphan works — works that are still in copyright but whose copyright holder can't be ascertained or located. The US Supreme Court case Eldred v Ashcroft heard that 98 percent of the works in copyright are orphans, and this problem will only get worse as the duration of copyright keeps on getting extended.
Parliament enacted the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which set out a plan for letting people buy and use orphan works with an escrow fund for absentee rightsholders. Now, the IPO is seeking opinions on how that system should run.
The Government's orphan works scheme aims to address the issue of reproducing works when rights holders cannot be found. The UK wide scheme provided under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 External Link, allows for the commercial and non-commercial use of any type of orphan work, by any applicant, once they have undertaken a diligent search for missing rights holders and paid a licence fee.
Alongside the UK scheme, the Government is implementing the complementary EU orphan works Directive External Link. This will allow publicly accessible archives to digitise certain works and to display them on their websites for access across the EU.
This technical consultation is seeking views on the legal effectiveness, structure and effect of the draft secondary legislation only. The overall policy is outside the scope of this consultation.
This consultation is particularly relevant to rights holders, their representatives and to anyone wishing to reproduce copyright works where the copyright owner cannot be found. However, it is not limited to these groups and responses from all interested parties are welcome.
Copyright works: seeking the lost