Assessment of the Orphan Works Issue and Costs for Rights Clearance

The European Commission has released Assessment of the Orphan Works Issue and Costs for Rights Clearance.

Here's an excerpt:

Orphan works form a significant part of any digitisation project and the survey shows high percentages of orphan works for almost all categories of works, especially among photographs, and audiovisual materials.

  • A conservative estimate of the number of orphan books as a percentage of in copyright books across Europe puts the number at 3 million orphan books (13 % of the total number of in-copyright books). The older the books the higher the percentage of orphan works.
  • When handling requests for using older film material, film archives from across Europe categorized after a search for right holders 129,000 film works as orphan which could therefore not be used. Works that can be presumed to be orphan without actually searching for the right holders augments the figure to approximately 225 000 film works.
  • A digitisation project in the UK found that 95 % of newspapers from before 1912 are orphan. Also, a survey amongst museums in the UK found that the rights holders of 17 million photographs (that is 90% of the total collections of photographs of the museums) could not be traced.
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