EnDOW (“Enhancing access to 20th Century cultural heritage through Distributed Orphan Works clearance”) is a collaborative project funded under Heritage Plus, a programme launched by agencies of 18 European countries and the European Commission as part of the Joint Programming Initiative in Cultural Heritage and Global Change. The project is a partnership of four leading European research centres:

  • CIPPM, Bournemouth University (Coordinator)
  • CREATe, University of Glasgow
  • IViR, University of Amsterdam
  • ASK, Bocconi University, Milan

The main goal of EnDOW is to facilitate the process of right clearance for European cultural institutions engaged in digitization of material contained in their collections. Specifically, EnDOW aims at designing, implementing and testing an efficient and cost-effective system for determining the “orphan work” status of library, archive and museum material, according to the requirements of the recently implemented European Directive on orphan works. The system will be based on crowd-sourcing certain phases of the process of diligent search of the rightholders, which is key requirement set by the Directive to benefit from the orphan works exception.

Key objectives of EnDOW are:

  • To analyse the legal requirement of “diligent search” across the orphan works legislation of a selected number of EU Member States;
  • To investigate best practices of orphan works clearance across cultural heritage sectors (libraries, archives and museums);
  • (Based on this knowledge:) to design, implement and optimize an online platform for crowd-sourced diligent searching on works contained in the collections of European cultural institutions;
  • To study the potential applications and challenges of the crowd-based search method for texts, images, films, works of visual art and born-digital cultural heritage works.

Through analytical and empirical approaches to mass digitization, the project aims at fostering knowledge exchange between cultural heritage stakeholders, including small and medium size institutions. It ultimately aims at producing a high-value tool to maximise sustainable management of recent cultural heritage, and use and re-use of related cultural artefacts.

Diligent Search is an online resource designed to assist European cultural institutions engaged in digitisation of their collections. The design of the resource is currently in progress, as part of a project funded by the Joint Progamme Initiative on Cultural Heritage (see details in the box on the right and in the About page).

Once operative, Diligent Search will provide cultural institutions with a resource to carry out diligent searches of rightholders and to “crowd-source” certain phases of this process, so that they can legally digitise their collections.

European cultural institutions are increasingly engaged in digitisation and making available online of works and artifacts contained in their collections. Europeana, the portal of European cultural heritage, gives access to almost 50 million digital objects from libraries, museums and archives.

However, digitisation of recent cultural heritage is still undermined by the risk that copyright and related rights may still subsist in the works. Under the recent European Directive on OrphanWorks, cultural institutions are allowed to make certain uses of those works if none of the rightholders could be identified or located after having carried out a diligent search.

Legislations of each Member States determine the conditions under which such a diligent search must be carried out; in particular, national legislations determine which sources must be consulted for each category of work to locate the potential rightholders.

Diligent Search will experiment an easily accessible, user-friendly and legally informed system to carry out diligent searches in different countries, and on different categories of works and phonograms.

If you want to share your experience on diligent search with our researchers, please contact the project leader.

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Funded by: Heritage Plus and EU Commission (JPI Cultural Heritage and Global Change)