The Study on Current Best Practices among Cultural Heritage Institutions when Dealing with Copyright Orphan Works, released today by EnDOW researchers Victoria Stobo, Kris Erickson, Aura Bertoni and Flavia Guerrieri, provides a baseline understanding of current practice in relation to copyright, orphan works, diligent search and rights clearance. The results provide also a benchmark against which to evaluate crowdsourcing (and indeed any other proposal) to address the challenge posed by orphan works. Respondents at 15 CHIs across the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy were interviewed, including the national library, the national archive and the national film archive. Qualitative and quantitative data was gathered about the institutions, their collections, their diligent search processes, the results rights clearance for specific digitization projects, their thoughts on the potential of crowd-sourcing as a solution, and their views on the current legislative framework.
The Study shows that:
There is wide variance in the level of readiness to engage with orphan works across the CHI sector
To succeed, crowdsourcing must do two things: firstly, offer increased benefits to institutions beyond current practices, and secondly, avoid imposing unreasonable knowledge or integration costs on the institutions involved. Readiness to engage in crowdsourcing diligent search is influenced by these economic factors, but also partially by reputational concerns. Some respondents voiced scepticism that crowd-generated diligent searches would adequately withstand external scrutiny, and preferred to maintain control over decisions about orphan work status for that reason. However, other participants responded positively to the concept, suggesting potential volunteers, and emphasizing the positive aspects of rights research and the impact it can have in CHIs and on users.