European Parliament Passes Orphan Works DirectivePublished on 13 September 2012 @ 4:25 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
The European Parliament today passed a “directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works” with 531 in favour versus 65 opposed (11 abstentions). The directive will be a good first step toward allowing the digitisation and making available to the public of older copyrighted works that are buried in the archives and libraries of the Union because no rights holder can be located, the lead rapporteur Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D) and many supportive MEPs said.
The draft directive is available here.
Yet many members, even those voting in favour, criticised the directive as not ambitious enough. The risk of becoming liable for compensation of a re-appearing rights-holder paired with the ban of commercial benefits for the venturing institutions could make the use of orphaned works too risky for libraries and archives, they said. Old broadcasting material (for example from Europe’s big public broadcasters) is even more at risk as there were always a lot of additional rights holders in addition to the main authors.
Pirate Party Member Christian Engstroem welcomed the centralised database on orphaned works and the acknowledgment of orphan status researched in one EU member states for Union in general but complained that Parliament had missed a chance. According to Engstroem, Parliament should have gone with the bolder proposal prepared by the European Commission. Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, said to be the “fairy godmother” of the orphaned works directive, this week announced that digital copyright as a whole should be urgently rethought on a broader scale. The orphan works directive that now has to be passed through the Council and implemented in the member states is only one of several projects on copyright in the information society.
A critique of the outcome from the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue is here.
The new directive “will not facilitate nor promote mass digitization and large-scale preservation of Europe´s vast cultural heritage,” it said. “Countless out-of-circulation works whose authors are unknown or not found will remain unaccessible. This has been an historic missed opportunity.”