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Old 06-11-2012, 12:02 PM   #1
stonetools
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EU considering "orphan works" legislation

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A photo, a film or a poem that is covered by a copyright, but whose right holder cannot be found, could be made publicly available across the EU, under draft legislation informally agreed by Parliament and Council representatives on Wednesday. This legislation would allow everyone to access such "orphan works" and take forward the project of making Europe's cultural heritage available online.



Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D, PL), who is steering the legislation through Parliament and led the negotiations, welcomed the deal as a: "first step towards harmonisation of copyright rules in the EU". "The regulation will promote culture and finally make it possible to make some hidden treasures available to the general public", she added at the end of the negotiating round.
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:44 PM   #2
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Good news!
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:58 PM   #3
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Aimed at libraries, and (on the short amount of detail available) sounds reasonable.

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Works granted orphan status would be then made public, through digitisation and only for non-profit purposes.
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Council representatives also agreed to a proposal by MEPs that a new article be inserted in the draft legislation to allow public institutions to generate some revenue from the use of an orphan work (e.g. goods sold in a museum shop). All of this revenue would have to be used to pay for the search and the digitisation process.
Edit: It is actually quite heartening that such seemingly sensible solutions can still be proposed, that appear to benefit the public rather than corporations.

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Old 06-11-2012, 01:07 PM   #4
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There are old movies rotting away in warehouses because they are in copyright limbo. Orphan works legislation would allow people to come in and restore them.
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Old 06-11-2012, 01:44 PM   #5
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I really hope that legislation comes to pass. Now if only the U.S. could be as sensible.
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Old 06-11-2012, 05:07 PM   #6
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Sounds good, only I'd make these works available for any use; including profit making ventures. Additionally, if rights holders were to come forward and establish rightful claims, they would receive no compensation for past use. Further use of these works would be up to the rights holders.
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Old 06-11-2012, 06:41 PM   #7
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I have no problem with the nonprofit approach, as long as it isn't nonprofit for all time. There are some good for-profit takes on public domain stuff. Maybe have it be where if it is orphaned, it is for PD non profit only until the copyright would have ordinarily expired.
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Old 06-11-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
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Sounds good, only I'd make these works available for any use; including profit making ventures. Additionally, if rights holders were to come forward and establish rightful claims, they would receive no compensation for past use. Further use of these works would be up to the rights holders.
That combination is ripe for abuse, especially when you consider it would be EU-wide. Any tiny outfit anywhere in the EU could 'mistakenly' consider major works from another country to be orphaned and make a quick buck off them before the foreign authors/publishers find out and put a stop to it, with no recompense.

The aim of this is to make works available to the public. That is why libraries exist, so having national libraries take the lead makes sense to me.
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Old 06-11-2012, 06:47 PM   #9
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I have no problem with the nonprofit approach, as long as it isn't nonprofit for all time. There are some good for-profit takes on public domain stuff. Maybe have it be where if it is orphaned, it is for PD non profit only until the copyright would have ordinarily expired.
What if the copyright holders show up during the nonprofit phase? Does all nonprofit use cease at that point?
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:01 PM   #10
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That's something that needs to be figured out anyway. If something is done to where for profit can happen when the orphan is able to fully enter public domain (when copyright expires completely), then that doesn't come into play, because at that point the copyright holder, really no longer holds it. Still, the entire time it is deemed an orphan, it is an issue.

According to the article linked in the OP, if the copyright holder shows up, and is verified, the copyright holder has the ability to end the orphan status, and claim compensation if desired. That can be scary, even though the next paragraph mentions
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They nonetheless inserted a provision to protect public institutions from the risk of having to pay large sums to authors who show up later. compensation would have to be calculated case by case, taking account of the actual damage done to the author's interests and the fact that the use was non-commercial. This should ensure that compensation payments remain small.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:15 PM   #11
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This sounds like a very good idea. Except for the non-profit part of it. Digitizing/restauration/general clean-up costs time and money, and we live in a world where money talks very loudly and charity and public good talks very, very quiet. Profit is a very strong reason to undertake such projects as these.

By the way: economic compensation for non-profit-use of "stuff" doesn't make any sense to me

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Old 06-11-2012, 07:15 PM   #12
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As far as I'm concerned, orphaned works should be fair game for all uses - nonprofit and profit.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:17 PM   #13
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I don't think owners of orphaned works are due compensation. If they were interested in the work at all it wouldn't have been orphaned. They had plenty of time to register a copyright and or get it published and or release it to the public or whatever. If they want to stop sales fine, but compensation for something lost and ignored for decades no.
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:17 AM   #14
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I don't think owners of orphaned works are due compensation. If they were interested in the work at all it wouldn't have been orphaned. They had plenty of time to register a copyright and or get it published and or release it to the public or whatever. If they want to stop sales fine, but compensation for something lost and ignored for decades no.
From what I understand, the Berne Convention requires works to be automatically copyrighted without needing registration, so the EU has no copyright registration.
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:15 AM   #15
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This sounds like a very good idea. Except for the non-profit part of it. Digitizing/restauration/general clean-up costs time and money, and we live in a world where money talks very loudly and charity and public good talks very, very quiet. Profit is a very strong reason to undertake such projects as these.
The current stats on Gallica (the digital side of the French National Library) are:
1 769 821 documents
353 689 books,
42 690 maps,
25 945 manuscripts,
489 741 images,
846 542 periodicals,
9 107 scores,
2 107 sound recordings

They seem to be happy to do it without making a profit, and I imagine they would jump on the orphan works very quickly.

Besides, the legislation doesn't prevent the institution making money from the orphan works, as long as all that money is used to pay for the scanning and other costs.
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