Cultural heritage institutions across Europe have started to digitise their archives and make them available online. However, the copyright status of many works, especially older ones, is uncertain. In particular, institutions are faced with a large number of works for which the authorship and rights ownership is unknown. The EU has addressed this issue under the Orphan Works Directive which permits cultural heritage institutions to make works available online if the right holders cannot be identified following a diligent search. However, the diligent search requirements impose a significant cost on the institutions due to the large number of works which need to be cleared this way. They also vary across member states.
IViR, in cooperation with the CIPPM (University of Bournemouth), CREATe (University of Glasgow) and ASK (Bocconi University), was awarded prestigious NWO funding (as part of the Heritage Plus and EU Commission’s JPI Cultural Heritage and Global Change program) to expedite the process in practice. The 3 year project ‘EnDow: Enhancing access to 20th Century cultural heritage through Distributed Orphan Works Clearance’ aims to establish an online platform to facilitate the diligent search. Based on the legal analysis of diligent search requirements in a number of member states, an online platform will be developed that allows the public to contribute to the diligent search that cultural heritage institutions need to carry out. This approach will help to minimise the duplication of searches and ease the burden on individual cultural heritage institutions. As a result, more works can be cleared for online access faster.