Copyright and Cultural Heritage

Copyright and Cultural Heritage

Preservation and Access to Works in a Digital World

Edited by Estelle Derclaye

Thanks to digitisation and the Internet, preservation of and access to our cultural heritage – which consists of works protected by copyright and works in the public domain – have never been easier. This essential book examines the twin issues of the preservation of, and access to, cultural heritage and the problems copyright law creates and the solutions it can at the same time provide. The expert contributors explore the extent to which current copyright laws from Europe and beyond prevent or help the constitution of a centralized online repository of our cultural heritage. Provided legal reform is achieved and the additional financial and organisational hurdles are overcome, this work argues that it should be possible to fulfill the dream of an online Alexandrian library.

Chapter 2: Registers, Databases and Orphan Works

Caroline Colin

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, intellectual property law


Caroline Colin* An orphan work1 is a work still under copyright whose author or right holder remains unidentified or untraceable.2 Because potential users are required to ask permission to authors or right holders to use their works, they have reached a deadlock. On the one hand, if users decide to use the works, they run a risk because they are likely to be sued for infringement in case the author or right holder reappears. A use of a work without the authorization of its author is infringing. On the other hand, if users give up using such works, one part of our cultural heritage is threatened because works will never be available for the public. Nevertheless, it is absolutely unthinkable to deny copyright. Authors’ rights have to be respected. The alleviation of the orphan works problem supposes to gather information about these works and to facilitate their uses. To this end, * Doctor of Laws, Senior researcher at the CRID (Research Centre on IT and Law), University of Namur, Belgium. I would like to thank Dr Maria-José Iglesias, Head of the Intellectual Property Unit of the Research Centre on IT and Law (University of Namur, Belgium) for her precious advice in the drafting of this article. 1 About orphan works, see notably F.-M. Piriou (2008), ‘Orphan works in search of legal solutions’, Revue Internationale du Droit d’Auteur, 10(218), 2–110. M.-J. Iglesias (2008), ‘Digital Libraries: any step forward?’, Auteurs et Medias, 2008/5, 345, and M.-J. Iglesias, ‘Digital libraries and...

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