Nov 6, 2015

The UKIPO's Orphan Works Register Turns One

Background 

One year ago the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) launched a new licensing scheme aimed at opening access to more than 91 million creative works whose owners or copyright holders are not known or not found.

These works are covered by copyright, but rights holders cannot be found by those who need to seek permission to reproduce them. Under the new scheme, a licence can be granted by the Intellectual Property Office so that these works can be reproduced on websites, in books and on TV without breaking the law, while protecting the rights of owners so they can be remunerated if they were to come forward claiming the particular work as their own.

The scheme was designed to reunite copyright holders with their works and ensure they are paid for their creations.

Current progress 

The second six months of this scheme has seen much less activity in terms of applications to use orphaned works. Only 31 new applications have been received, taking the total to 294 for the whole year that it has been established. However the proportion of successful applications has stayed the same at 83%.

The vast majority of applications have been for still images (229) with written works (47) in second place. The success rate however for written works is much lower at 55%. Sound recordings are third in place and 12 were granted licences and musical notation, scripts and choreography, and moving images only having one or two applications for each category.

The institution that has received the most applications for still imagery since the Register began operating last year is the Museum of the Order of St John – who were an ancient religious military order who cared for sick pilgrims in the eleventh century Jerusalem, through to its modern day role with St. John Ambulance, the international first aid charity. More commercial bodies such as book publishers and a promotions agency have also been among the applicants. Until the UKIPO publish their own report, it is not possible to know why a number of applications have been turned down.

The UKIPO will publish its own review of the first year of the Orphan Register along with how the EU Orphan Works Directive has worked out in the UK since being implemented. This system is available to certain libraries, museums and archives to self-certify that they have conducted diligent searches for copyright owners for works they hold and this saves them the fees payable for using the IPO website.

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