EnDOW Community. Public engagement in orphan works clearance to unlock access to UK film archives

Lead Research Organisation: Bournemouth University
Department Name: Faculty of Media and Communication


EnDOW Community is a follow-on project designed to increase public engagement around EnDOW ("Enhancing access to 20th Century cultural heritage through Distributed Orphan Works Clearance"), a 3-years collaborative project funded by AHRC under the Joint Programme Initiative in Cultural Heritage and Global Change (2014-2018). The underpinning EnDOW project has developed an online resource--the Diligent Search Tool (available at http://diligentsearch.eu)--that helps libraries, museums and archives in the complex task of clearing rights in their 'orphan works'. These are works in which copyright still subsists but whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be located. In order to lawfully digitize and make such material available to the public, the holding institutions must prove they have carried out an unsuccessful 'diligent search' of the copyright owners. While this requirement frequently results in a burdensome process, for which many cultural institutions lack resources and expertise, the EnDOW Diligent Search Tool facilitates this task and makes it feasible also to users with no specialized knowledge of copyright law.

Building on the resource created by the underpinning research project, EnDOW Community explores an innovative way of using the EnDOW Diligent Search Tool. This online resource will be used as a crowd-sourcing platform for copyright clearance in the UK film archive sector. In collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI), this follow-on project will engage a community of volunteers in the task of clearing rights on a large amounts of films and audio-visual works that are potentially orphan works within BFI and other national and regional film archives. This is an untapped and potentially immense wealth of material that may become available to the public as diligent search is systematically carried out on it.

To achieve its goal, EnDOW Community will create a community of volunteers with the skills to clear the rights of audio-visual copyright works by engaging identified cultural institutions (national and regional film archives) to use the online Diligent Search Tool. A dedicated recruitment campaign will be launched across the main UK film festivals and events. Online resources will be activated to assist the volunteers with the performance of diligent searches on a number of titles selected by BFI and the national and regional film archives, including video tutorials, webcasts and discussion forum. As a result of such engagement, the project will deliver a collection of about 300 right-cleared orphan works (films) that the hosting cultural institutions will be able to lawfully exploit and share online. The engagement and expertise generated by this one-year project has the potential to be extended to a wider range of archival material, so that cultural heritage institutions across all sectors can make the most of existing legislation on orphan works and cultural preservation.

Planned Impact

EnDOW Community will create a volunteer base to crowd-source the copyright clearance of a collection of films under the supervision of the British Film Institute (BFI). The project has both immediate and mid-/long-term outcomes. By the end of the one-year project, it will register as 'orphans' 150 to 300 films, which will be immediately available for online dissemination according to current copyright legislation (UK Orphan Works Regulations 2014 and EU Orphan Works Directive 2012). In the longer run, the EnDOW community project will develop the sensibilization of user communities, voluntary groups and the public at large to the problem of orphan works, which need to be 'cleared' of their rights before being digitised and re-used. As a plus, EnDOW Community is a pilot experiment to that create a blueprint for the right clearance of other types of artefacts (music, books, etc.) for which the EnDOW Diligent Search Tool is already equipped.

Strategic dissemination and recruitment of volunteers include intervention at 11 film festivals, with the projection of an explanatory and motivational video, illustrating the orphan works problem and the way users can help and collaborate. The film festivals targeted by the project typically include the projection of older, classical films, which are more likely to be affected by the orphan works legislation.

Moreover, the network of cultural heritage institutions created by the underpinning EnDOW Project will be exploited to illustrate the progress and outcomes of EnDOW Community.

Finally, the EnDOW community will be advertised through a number of blogposts on various websites: the BFI web site; the CIPPM research blog; the BU Research Blog; the Kluwer IP Blog; the IP Kat; the CREATe Research blog, as well as social media such as the BFI Twitter account (819,000 followers). Direct notification on the project and its progress will be circulated among academics and researchers, cultural heritage institutions, EU MPs, EU executives, members of Civil Rights organizations, university students, and practitioners.


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