Orphan Works and Risk Management

The question of how to manage orphan works (works for which the rightsholder is unknown or cannot be traced) has remained high on the strategic agenda of many museums, libraries, archives, universities and colleges and other organisations across the UK who own a vast range of creative works from artworks to manuscripts to academic research.

Many of these works are ‘in copyright’ and often, the copyright is owned by third parties, such as the artist themselves, their heirs, representatives or other third parties. These works include those which have a high commercial value, such as fine art and commercial films and others which are of negligible commercial value but high academic, cultural and historic worth eg documentary photographs, amateur films, letters and sound recordings.

In order to use these works, and provide access to them, organisations have to effectively manage the associated rights and permissions of these works.

These tools aim to explain, offer practical advice and provide enhanced understanding on this issue with the aim of potentially limiting the number of orphan works being created daily.

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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Licensing publications

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