The Orphan Works Directive, which has long been in the pipeline (see Eleonora's June blog post), has finally been adopted by the Council.
The Council's approval marks the final step in the legislative procedure meaning that the Directive will formally enter into force in the coming weeks further to its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member States will then have two years to transpose it into national law.
Orphan Works are works which are protected by copyright but whose creators cannot be identified or found. The Commission memo, released yesterday, confirms that the new Directive on Orphan Works "will provide
Europe's libraries, archives, film heritage institutions, public broadcasters and other organisations acting in the public interest with the appropriate legal framework to provide on-line cross-border access to orphan works contained in their collections." It goes on to say that "The Directive is a central element of the Commission's strategy to create an enabling framework for the use of intellectual property announced in its intellectual property strategy adopted in May 2011."
Commissioner Barnier has said that "Today's adoption of the Orphan Works Directive is a significant achievement in our efforts to create a digital single market. It will enable easy online access for all citizens to our cultural heritage. The swift and successful outcome of the legislative process and the broad consensus reached both in the Council and the Parliament prove that by working together we can agree on measures to ensure that the EU copyright rules are fit for purpose in the digital age. Alongside other achievements such as the European Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the mass digitisation of out-of-commerce books, this Directive is one more step in making licensing and online access to cultural content easier."
As this blog reported in September, although the Commission's Vice-President Neelie Kroes, is in favour of the Orphan Works Directive and proposals relating to collective rights management, she has been very clear other issues exist beyond licensing and orphan works, and that "substantive copyright reform" is required.
I wonder if the UK Govt will use the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and its attendant - although not yet revealed - secondary legislation to introduce the Directive into UK law in the spirit the EU intends, namely for the cultural enrichment of society, or in the UK spirit of enriching commercial enterprises, with very few safeguards to prevent the sort of abuse that Stop43 and others have identified as a possible outcome.
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