Orphan works exception: use it or lose it

(October 2018)

As a likely consequence of the UK leaving the EU, the UK is at risk of losing a hugely beneficial “exception to copyright” that allows cultural organisations to digitise and make available online “orphan works” from their collections – works whose copyright owner(s) are unknown or uncontactable.

The Government has said that in the case of a “no-deal” Brexit this helpful exception will be removed from UK law.

Act NOW to register “orphan works” from your collections – the more works registered, the stronger our case to Government that the UK cultural sector needs this exception to copyright.

Help prove to Government that taking digital rights from cultural organisation is not a positive step forward.

How do I get started?

  1. Go to this self-assessment tool on Gov.uk to check that you and your “orphan work” collection items meet the exception criteria.
  2. Conduct and record a diligent search for the copyright owner(s) to prove the material really is “orphan”. Start by searching the EU database to check if the work is already registered. Diligent search guidance is available from the EnDow project, Copyright User, and the UK Intellectual Property Office.
  3. Go to the EU database to register details of your work.

Help spread the word

Please share this call to action with cultural organisations and practicioners in the UK. You can also share the “Use It or Lose It” campaign flyer.

Tell us about your use of the exception

If you use the orphan works exception – or you make plans to do so – please let LACA know. The more we know about cultural organisations’ use of the exception, the better equipped we are to argue for its retention.