May 27, 2022

UK Government Launches Technical Consultation on Orphan Works

From the UK’s Intellectual Property Office Web Site:

Orphan works are copyright works (such as books, photographs, films and music) for which one or more of the copyright owners cannot be found. If someone wants to copy a work to use it in a book, an exhibition, on a website or in a documentary, they need to obtain permission from the rights holders (creators, publishers, broadcasters etc). At present, if the work is an orphan then it cannot be reproduced lawfully.

The Government’s orphan works scheme aims to address the issue of reproducing works when rights holders cannot be found. The UK wide scheme provided under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, allows for the commercial and non-commercial use of any type of orphan work, by any applicant, once they have undertaken a diligent search for missing rights holders and paid a licence fee.

Alongside the UK scheme, the Government is implementing the complementary EU orphan works Directive. This will allow publicly accessible archives to digitise certain works and to display them on their websites for access across the EU.

This technical consultation is seeking views on the legal effectiveness, structure and effect of the draft secondary legislation only. The overall policy is outside the scope of this consultation.

This consultation is particularly relevant to rights holders, their representatives and to anyone wishing to reproduce copyright works where the copyright owner cannot be found. However, it is not limited to these groups and responses from all interested parties are welcome.

Documents and Forms

The deadline to submit a response is February 28, 2014.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.