FORWARD – Framework for a EU-wide Audiovisual Orphan Works Registry

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Since November 2013, a consortium of 13 partners, among them 11 Film Heritage Institutions and commercial film libraries are working on FORWARD, a three-year EU funded project, which aims at creating an EU wide, semi-automated system to assess the rights status for all types of audiovisual works, including orphans. FORWARD has been initiated by ACE in the context of the Orphan Works Directive 2012/28/EU.  It is, in a way, the result of ACE’s advocacy work to facilitate rights clearing for films and, in particular, to find a solution for the hundreds of thousand of orphan works preserved in Europe’s film archives.  FORWARD also works towards the Commission’s policy for an integrated approach to Europe’s cultural heritage.

FORWARD is co-ordinated by the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique and supported by the Community  Porgramme CIP ICT PSP “Europeana & Creativity”.

Work programme:

Analysis of national copyright legislations and system workflow

As a first step, the legal frameworks of the countries involved in the project have been analysed. This is a necessary step to define the workflow for assessing the rights status of a film and to get a clear indication whether it is in public domain or in-copyright, and in this case, whether it is orphan and how it can be used across Europe.  So far, FORWARD started to  define legal decision trees for those countries in the project that have already implemented the EU Orphan Works Directive: Finland and Germany. The Netherlands and Denmark will follow.  The analysis of the legal frameworks is coordinated  by EYE Film Institute, due to their legal expertise in the “Images for the FUTURE” project and the European Film Gateway.

Design of rights information infrastructure
The workflow design from a technical point of view is coordinated by CINECA. CINECA builds on the experience they have achieved as a technical partner in ARROW. ARROW is a similar tool to assist rights clearance, but for the publishing sector. Compared to ARROW, the system’s workflow in FORWARD is much more complex, because a film has more authors:  In most European countries these are the principal director, music composer, author of the screenplay and author of dialogues. This means that much more databases and sources need to be checked to find the relevant information.

How to find information about AV rights holders?
The 10 Film Heritage Institutions (FHI) presented in the consortium are the main and often unique sources of information, which is stored in filmographic databases, catalogues, on cencorship cards etc. However, to complete the information, 3rd party databases from producers, authors, and Collective Management Societies need to be searched as well. FORWARD partners are currently identifying relevant national 3rd party information sources such as  GEMMA for music rights. FORWARD will take into consideration the search criteria and sources which need to be queried in compliance with the national legislations on Orphan Works

Enriching metada
Project partner DFI (Danish Film Institute) is currently analyzing the databases of each partner archive. If information is missing that is critical for assessing the rights status, the archive will record the information manually, so that it can be harvested and processed by the FORWARD system.

Promotion and consensus building
Consensus building among all stakeholders is a key element for the progress and succes of the project. FHI, CMOs, producers etc need to agree upon the workflow. For this purpose national seminars will be organized in the partner’s countries. The first seminars will be held in October in Germany at the Deutsches Filminstitut, Finland and The Netherlands are following.

Partners: Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique/Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief, coordinator  (Brussels), Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (Brussels, Frankfurt), CNC – Archives françaises du film (Bois d´Arcy), Consorzio Interuniversitario – CINECA (Bologna), Danish Film Institute (Copenhagen), Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF (Frankfurt), EYE Film Institute Netherlands (Amsterdam),  Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna (Bologna), FOCAL International LTD (Middlesex),  Filmoteka Narodowa (Warsaw), KAVI – National Audiovisual Insitute (Helsinki), Instituto de la Cinematografia y Artes Audiovisuales – Filmoteca Española (Madrid), Národní filmový archiv – National Film Archive (Prague).

More information:
FORWARD project website
FORWARD fact sheet


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