OHIM Launches Orphan Works Database
On October 27, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) launched a new database for orphan works in the EU, as promised in the 2012 Orphan Works Directive. Orphan works are copyrighted materials such as books, films and audio recordings whose owner is unknown. Without permission from the copyright owner, such works can’t be digitized or publicized by others. The Directive provides for an exception from that rule by allowing public institutions (such as publicly accessible libraries, museums and public service broadcasters) to digitize and display orphan works that they have in their collections or archives – but only after a “diligent search” for the copyright owner. The aim of the database is to collect information about orphan works and to make these works accessible to the wider public; in addition, creators who recognize their materials on the database will be able to reclaim their copyrights.