27 May 2011 – On 24 May 2011, the European Commission adopted a Proposal for a Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works with a view to establishing common rules on the digitisation and online display of so-called orphan works. Orphan works are works like books, published articles and films that are still protected by copyright but whose authors are not known or cannot be located or contacted to obtain copyright permissions.
According to a study ACE carried out among its member archives in 2009, about 21% of the films held in Europe’s film archives and cinematheques are estimated to be orphan works. But with no common rules available to make the digitisation and online display of orphan works legally possible, they are doomed to remain untouched and therefore inaccessible. In order to proceed with large-scale digitisation projects such as the Europeana portal, common guidelines on how to deal with such works are necessary.
The Proposal forsees a new EU law providing lawful, cross-border online access to orphan works. Libraries, museums and archives in the EU country where a work was first published would be required to conduct a thorough search to find the copyright holder before creating a digital version. If the rightholder cannot be identified or located, the work would be identified as an “orphan” and that status would apply throughout the EU so that the work could be made available online without prior authorisation until the owner is identified and found.
Further information on the Proposal for a Directive on orphan works as well as other language versions of the related documents are available here.
26 October 2010 – The presentations held at the meeting of the Cinema Experts Group – Subgroup Film Heritage in Brussels, 15 October 2010, are now available here.
20 August 2010 – On 18 August, the European Commission’s Reflection Group (“Comité des Sages”) on digitisation launched a consultation on how best to foster the online presence of cultural heritage. As Europe’s creative and cultural sectors undergo a revolutionary transition, innovative solutions are needed to keep up with technological advances and reap their full benefits. The Commission has asked the Reflection Group to look at how best to speed up the digitisation, online accessibility and preservation of cultural works across Europe. Contributions to this consultation will feed into the recommendations the Group will make before the end of the year (see IP/10/456). The consultation will run until 30 September 2010. All interested parties – citizens, cultural institutions, public authorities, private companies, NGOs, academic institutions – to give their views on key issues of digitisation.
Challenges and Opportunities of the Digital Era for European Film Heritage
7 July 2010 – A report published today by the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Directorate General sounds the alarm over the survival of Europe’s film heritage. 80% of silent films are estimated to have been lost already but even new digital era films are at risk. Although the digital era provides new means of making and presenting films, it also imposes new challenges to the traditional ways of collecting and preserving films. Digital technologies are constantly evolving and what seems cutting-edge today may be obsolete in 2020 as cassette tapes or video recorders are already today. Film heritage institutions need to keep up, take up and advance new technologies to preserve Europe’s films.
The report and the press release are available here.
11 June 2010 – The European Commission has launched a call for tenders in order conduct a study on the “Challenges of the digital era for film heritage institutions”. The call for tenders is published in the OJ 2010/S108-163209 of 05/06/2010. The aim of the study is to provide a detailed description of the challenges that film heritage institutions are facing in relation to all areas of their activities, as well as the opportunities that digital technologies offer.
The deadline for receipt of tenders is 1 September 2010 at 16.00. All tenders documents can be found here.
A summary of the objectives and the methodology of the study is available hereunder.