Solving Europeana’s Mass-Digitization Issues Through Extended Collective Licensing?

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Copyright, Extended Collective Licensing, Europeana, Digital Libraries, Cross-Border, Multi-Territory, Orphan Works


To the extent that books, photographs and other items in the collections of libraries and other cultural institutions are protected by copyright, they cannot be disseminated online without prior permission from the copyright owners. This applies to most items created during the 20th century. However, the transaction costs of finding and negotiating a license with every copyright owner would rise to paramount levels. In cases where it is impossible to identify or locate the right holder ("orphan work"), the items cannot be made available at all. These challenges hamper the development of initiatives aiming at digitizing and making available online the collections of cultural institutions and services like Europeana. A way forward is the Nordic extended collective licensing (ECL) model. The model extends an agreement between a Collective Management Organization (CMO) and a user also non-members of the organization. In this way many of the transaction costs can be drastically reduced. The paper analyses the pros and cons of an ECL cross-border model in relation to the digitization and online dissemination of the collections held by national cultural institutions.


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