29 October 2014Copyright

UKIPO makes millions of orphan works available

A UK licensing scheme launched today (October 29) will make millions of previously copyright protected works available to the public, it has been claimed.

The scheme, launched by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), could free up as many as 91 million works.

The works, which include photographs, oral recordings and documentary films, are known as orphan works. They are protected by copyright but the relevant right holders cannot be found.

Under the new scheme, the IPO can grant a licence allowing the works to be reproduced on websites, in books and on TV without breaking the law.

The IPO said the relevant right holders would receive payment if they come forward.

Baroness Neville Rolfe, minister for IP, said the programme enabled access to a wider range of “culturally important” works.

“The scheme has been designed to protect right holders and give them a proper return if they reappear, while ensuring that citizens and consumers will be able to access more of our country's great creations, more easily," Neville Rolfe added.

Before receiving a licence, an applicant is required to conduct a diligent search and allow the right holder (if there is one) to search the register of granted licences, the IPO said.

According to the IPO, the UK is the first country to use an electronic application system and searchable register of licences.

The scheme is part of wider efforts to modernise the UK’s copyright system following the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, a 2011 report into its IP system.

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