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Report by the US Copyright Office on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization

J AxhamnOn June 4th, the US Copyright Office published a report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization. The report addresses two situations where the current US copyright system may not fulfill its aim to “promote the Progress of Science”: orphan works and mass-digitization. As regards orphan works, the Office notes that a user’s ability to seek permission or to negotiate licensing terms is compromised by the fact that, despite his or her diligent efforts, the user cannot identify or locate the copyright owner. As regards mass digitization – which involves making reproductions of many works, as well as possible efforts to make the works publicly accessible – the Office observes that obtaini [...]

First Blog Poll: Orphan works and cultural heritage institutions

blog-poll-1---200PXA relatively new feature on the different Kluwer Legal Blogs (e.g. the KluwerPatentBlog and the KluwerArbitrationBlog) is the so-called legal Blog Poll.

Not only because it is always nice to hear what the communis opinio is about recent developments in jurisprudence and legislative procedures or about new or revived theories and ideas, but also to initiate or to stir a discussion.

You will find our first poll below and in the right column of this site. If you want, you can attach your name to your survey answers. If you want the result to be anonymous, just leave out your name and email address. If you have additional comments, you can either mail them to us or leave them in the comment sect [...]

To register or not to register?

On 27 September, the Dutch government introduced what at first glance would seem an inconsequential proposal, e.g. to amend the Register Act of 1970 whereby the possibility for legal and natural persons to register their copyright protected work at the tax office will be eliminated. Should the Dutch proposal be adopted, the registration of private deeds will be limited to those acts concerning subject matter for which registration is a legal formality.

The reasoning behind this proposal is that a deed that witnesses an agreement between two parties has probative force between the parties whether the deed is registered or not. Registration of a work or an invention offers no independent cop [...]

Are European orphans about to be freed?
Last week, the European Parliament approved the draft Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works. The approval of the Council of Ministers is expected to occur shortly.

This is big news indeed, for it’s the first draft directive in the area of copyright law to make it this far in more than 10 years. It’s been commented and reported by many.

The proposed directive is striking in many respects. Most prominent is the virtually unanimous opinion that the directive ‘is a step in the right direction’, but that it ‘will not facilitate nor promote mass digitization and large-scale preservation of Europe’s vast cultural heritage’. This conjures up the image of the elephant giving birth to a [...]

France solves its XXe century book problem!

Without much noise, France recently adopted Act Nr. 2012-287 of 1st March 2012 relating to the digital exploitation of unavailable books of the 20th century. Contrary to past initiatives from the French lawmaker, the Act does not relate to orphan works, but rather to out-of-commerce works. Or, more precisely: books.

According to the explanatory memorandum to the Proposal, France is the first country in the world to put in place a modern and efficient mechanism to regulate the use of unavailable works, which forms today’s biggest obstacle to the digitization of cultural heritage. The French solution is presented as offering a response to the rejected Google settlement in the United States.

W [...]

Cultural heritage institutions concerned over proposed European orphan works directive

The Proposal for a Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works, introduced in the European Parliament on 24 May 2011, has been following its merry way through the legislative meanders ever since. The debates around the text of the proposal are heating up right now, for the European Commission pushes for rapid adoption while stakeholders watch out against any measure possibly affecting their respective interests.

Already since the beginning of this year, the Danish Presidency has published two revised compromise proposals, one on 6 January and the second one on 10 February 2012. The last proposal was followed by a Presidency non-paper on a possible single database for orphan works for [...]

Will out-of-commerce books soon be managed by a collective management society in France?

A new proposal of law on the digital exploitation of (commercially) unavailable books of the 20th Century (proposition de loi relative à l’exploitation numérique des livres indisponibles du XX° siècle) has been introduced quasi-simultaneously in the Senate and in the National Assembly.

According to the preamble of the proposal, about 500 000 books published during the 20th Century are out of print (for commercial and economic reasons) and only available in libraries. To ensure their dissemination, their digitisation becomes necessary. However, a major uncertainty subsists concerning their copyright status and ownership. Most of the publishing contracts, which are granting rights of exp [...]

Assessing the UK Government Response to the Hargreaves’ Review

[By Dr Luke McDonagh}
The UK Government’s response to the Hargreaves’ Review includes the approval of a number of THE reports recommendations, the main ones being the acceptance of the need for a new procedure to clear and license orphan works, and the acceptance that some form of Digital Copyright Exchange is required.
With regard to orphan works, the Government agreed with Professor Hargreaves that there is a problem with the current system. The Government has promised to bring forward detailed proposals in the Autumn in order to allow for both commercial and cultural uses of orphan works, “subject to satisfactory safeguards for the interests of both owners of ‘orphan rights’ and [...]

UK: Examining the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property [by Luke McDonagh]

The dust has now settled on the Hargreaves Review – officially known as “A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth” – which was published during May 2011. The main focus of Professor Ian Hargreaves’s review was copyright law and he made a number of interesting recommendations in this area.
Firstly, one of the major points made in the report is a firm rejection of the introduction of a US-style ‘fair use’ exception. The report noted that there were two major reasons for this rejection; it was strongly opposed by rights holders and it was generally thought that any such innovation may run afoul of EU law, and in particular the terms of the Information Society Directive. Consider [...]

The Commission’s Proposal for a Directive on Orphan Works

On 24 May 2011, the European Commission announced a proposal for a directive on ‘certain permitted uses of orphan works’. This title perfectly conveys the scope of the proposal. Rather than adopting a generic approach to deal with the problem of orphan works, the Commission comes up with a set of measures designed for specific situations in which the problem is considered to be particularly urgent, namely, in relation to mass digitisation projects. This follows from the Commission’s objective to create a legal framework to ensure the lawful cross-border online access to orphan works contained in online digital libraries or archives and used in the pursuit of the public interest mission [...]

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