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European Commission


Brussels, 4 October 2012

Commissioner Barnier welcomes final adoption of the Orphan Works Directive by the Council

"Today's adoption of the Orphan Works Directive is a significant achievement in our efforts to create a digital single market. It will enable easy online access for all citizens to our cultural heritage. The swift and successful outcome of the legislative process and the broad consensus reached both in the Council and the Parliament prove that by working together we can agree on measures to ensure that the EU copyright rules are fit for purpose in the digital age. Alongside other achievements such as the European Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the mass digitisation of out-of-commerce books, this Directive is one more step in making licensing and online access to cultural content easier."


Orphan Works are works which are protected by copyright but whose creators cannot be identified or found. The new Directive on Orphan Works will provide Europe's libraries, archives, film heritage institutions, public broadcasters and other organisations acting in the public interest with the appropriate legal framework to provide on-line cross-border access to orphan works contained in their collections. The Directive is a central element of the Commission's strategy to create an enabling framework for the use of intellectual property announced in its intellectual property strategy adopted in May 2011 (see IP/11/630 and MEMO/12/743).

The Council's approval marks the final step in the legislative procedure. Further to the trilogue agreement last June (see MEMO/12/421), the Parliament had approved the directive by a very large majority at its September plenary session.

The Directive will formally enter into force in the coming weeks further to its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member States will have two years to transpose it into national law.

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