Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Europeana online again

Many people were curious about the project of digitalization of (hard-copied) works. In fact with 10 million hits an hour, on 20 November 2008, the servers were not capable of providing a fast crawl over the website

Europeana is the online digitalization project funded by the European Union. The project is involved in digitaliza
tion of all kinds works of art: text, images, videos and sounds.

But why is this interesting?

Firstly, since all over the world orphan works legislation pops up. And many of those legislative initiative have two things in common:
  • the copyright holder are not easily be found, and
  • there has to have been a diligent research.
Of course one can debate about what a diligent research is. But I will not at this point, but at the core of most (provisional) legislation one has to proof, whether for getting a public license, or as a defense before a court, if a diligent research took place.

What many people claim in the upcoming (provisional) U.S. Act is that the law automatically orphans the work of creators and one has to register to get copyright protection (2). And that private registry initiatives (that do not exist yet) are to be set up in order to protect copyrighted works.

This is by the way not really true, since many international copyright treaties will prevent that from going to a registry system, especially article 5(2) Berne Convention
(3). As well that only works whereby the copyright holder is not easy to be found and so copyright holder have to become active in preventing their work to become orphans, private initiatives will probably solve this problem.

Secondly, it is interesting to see that a problem arisen from the internet is now tackled by that same medium. As David Sanger mentioned on the SAA Orphan Works Blog(4):
Even the major websites often strip metadata for performance reasons. Whatever the cause, once removed from its context and stripped of identifying data even a properly licensed, well attributed image becomes extremely difficult to trace.(5)
The initiatives mentioned by the Lisa Shaftel of the Graphic Artists Guild is to prevent works from being orphaned, could be helpfull:
  • register your works with the US Copyright Office.
  • be sure to put you name and date of creation somewhere on all your works legibly.
  • keep copies of your copyright registrations with hard copy prints of the works.
  • tell your heir(s)- the person or people you will name in your will or living trust- about your works and show them where your paper files are.
  • write a will or living trust.(6)
Initiatives like Europeana, or in general the digitalization of all kinds of works, are most likely resulting in less orphaned works. When the aforementioned diligent search does not involve databases like these, it is most unlikely that it is considered to be diligent before a copyright board or before court.

So initiatives like these have to be supported in order to prevent the problem we are facing, and eventually the problem that a digital environment created is being transferred into a progressive solution in that same environment. Since even the hardcopied world is being covered by the databases.

I see many connections with Google Book Search Project

Thirdly, Interesting is also the goal of the MILE-project:
MILE (Metadata Image Library Exploitation) aims to promote European cultural heritage and make digital art more accessible by improving metadata.(8)
I see many connections with Google Image Labeller project (the web 2.0 version of meta-data-adding): please contribute and do this game at least once :).

(2), listen to
(5) David Sanger, Metadata and attribution,
(6) Lisa Shaftel, National Advocacy Committee Chairperson,
Project your artistic works from becoming orphans, (version: August 16, 2005), last viewed: 24 December 2008.
(8) MILE Project,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blogs will get more interactive

I just stumbled upon the following interactive way of linking items of blogs: Apture

Thanks to RSS I get in touch with many more items to make this blog work! You should give it a try too. Press E to open the Apture when logged in on your own blog.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Orphan Works - Master Thesis

Supported by a lawyer and lecturer of my university I decided to write my final master thesis about Orphan Works in a digital environment:
An orphan work is a copyrighted work where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder.(1)
But, now is the second question: what aspects do I want to highlight? Do I want to compare judicial systems (if any)? Or do I want to present the current status-quo of the legislative procedure in the EU? What is wished for, what are the principles for going into debate about the solution?

Here some preliminairy preview, based on online research of three hours.


Section 77 subsection (1) of the Copyright act (2):

Owners Who Cannot be Located
77. (1) Where, on application to the Board by a person who wishes to obtain a licence to use
(a) a published work,
(b) a fixation of a performer's performance,
(c) a published sound recording, or
(d) a fixation of a communication signal

in which copyright subsists, the Board is satisfied that the applicant has made reasonable efforts to locate the owner of the copyright and that the owner cannot be located, the Board may issue to the applicant a licence to do an act mentioned in section 3, 15, 18 or 21, as the case may be.

Meaning that the Copyright Board may give a license to allow the use of the orphaned work. But only if the board is satisfied with the efforts made by the applicant. They also point out that some applicants can simply use works, since it falls under the concept of fair use in American law or exception of quotation under the more EU related laws:
This two-sentence description of a highway is not a substantial part of the 136-page long book in which it is found. Using those two sentences does not expropriate the essence or flavour of the work. Consequently, no licence is required and the application is dismissed.(3)


There will be/ is legislation in America, based on the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act, S. 2913.

Main thing - and this is based on some YouTube-videos (4)- all works will have to be registered to profit from the protection by law. Many Users have noted that this is will lead to the use of UGC by corporations. A nice follow-up let's say to the Web 2.0 applications. Remember the Virgin Mobile issue on : "hey that's me! no joke. i think i'm being insulted...can you tell me where this was taken. " Maybe we will see more of this kind of usage when corporations "crowd source" the internet for creative works...

When you did not register, well then you will not have any commercial intentions with your work, but we do!!!!
(3) Copyright Board Canada, 2007-UO/TI-22 at
(4) therealweeklynews, CORPORATE THEFT - THE ORPHAN WORKS BILL, at
(5) Cartoon, used with fair use exception of visual quotation from:
(6) Photo: (c) 2008, some rights reserved, by Michael Mistretta at Creative Commons License