Orphan Works, Mass Rights Clearance, and Online Libraries: The Flaws of the Draft Orphan Works Directive and Extended Collective Licensing as a Solution
Medien und Recht International vol. 8 (2011), pp. 3-10
16 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2011
This article discusses a draft proposal for a new European directive that addresses the problem of orphan works in the context of digital online libraries (i.e. cultural heritage works that are protected by copyright but whose copyright owners are unknown or cannot be located despite reasonable efforts). The directive proposes to oblige member states to create a solution for this problem, but leaves it up to them to pick one of their choice. Mutual recognition of national solutions is introduced to allow European-wide use of orphan works. However, this article argues that this directive focuses on the wrong problem. Online libraries are not only faced by the problem of orphan works, but by the problem of clearing copyrights for a large amount of works at once. The problem of orphan works is only a symptom of the problem of mass rights clearance. Therefore, a solution should be sought that addresses mass rights clearance rather than orphan works alone. The article proposes the system of extended collective licencing (ECL). However, a number of problems with ECL remain, and these are discussed briefly.
Keywords: Copyright; orphan works; digital libraries; online libraries
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