Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works (ARROW)

ARROW, Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works towards Europeana, is a project of a consortium of European national libraries, publishers and collective management organisations, also representing writers through their main European associations and national organisations.

ARROW aims in particular to support the EC's i2010 Digital Library Project by finding ways to identify rights holders, rights and clarify the rights status of a work including whether it is orphan or out of print. This will enable libraries as well as other users to obtain information on who are the pertinent rights holders, which are the relevant rights concerned, who owns and administers them and how and where they can seek permission to digitise and / or make available the work to user groups. The project also seeks to enhance the interoperability between sources of rights information (i.e. exchange of information) held by rights holders, RROs and other collective management organisations, agents, libraries and users. Solutions envisaged by the venture include the establishment of systems for the exchange of rights data, the creation of registries of orphan works, information on or registries of works out of print, supporting the creation of a network of rights clearance mechanisms. Key to achieving this objective is interoperability, standards deployment and stakeholder involvement.

ARROW is one of the projects selected among 102 ones proposed in 2007 under the European Commissions eContentplus Programme which seeks to help make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable.

Policy Context

The European Commission. In January of 2010 the Final report of the High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries: "Digital Libraries: Challenges and Recommendations for the Future" was disseminated. The report consolidates and summarises the advice provided by the HLEG in the period 2006-2009. The document includes several and broad references to the ARROW project.

The European Parliament, Committee on Culture and Education. Draft report submitted by MEP Helga Trüpel on "Europeana, the next steps" (approved by the Committee on 22 February 2010.) The report contains references to the out of print and orphan works and ARROW has been noted as a "very useful tool(s) in facilitating the rights clearance for orphan works." The Trüpel Report will be voted by the European Parliament on 21 April.

The document also states that the European Parliament "welcomes and supports initiatives, such as the ARROW project, partnered by both rights-holders and library representatives, in particular since these seek to identify rights-holders and their rights, and clarify the rights' status of works including whether these are orphan or out of print."

Description of target users and groups

  • Libraries
  • Rights holders
  • RROs
  • eRetailers
  • European Digital Library

Description of the way to implement the initiative

European national libraries, publishers and collective management organisations, also representing writers - working through their main European associations and a significant number of national organisations - propose a targeted project to address in a single framework the fundamental issue of rights information management to underpin the digital library initiative. The challenges of orphan works, out of print books, clearance of protected material and interoperability between public and private collections can be overcome only through setting up the rights information infrastructure that Arrow will deliver, moving towards a more inclusive digital library.

This infrastructure will include, but not be limited to, the creation of a European distributed registry of orphan works and access to network of existing clearance centres for out of print works, in line with the recommendation of the High Level Expert Group on Digital libraries. The system will also provide the infrastructure for the management of any type of rights information, so facilitating the actual implementation of innovative business models for both digital libraries and private econtent providers.

Key to achieving this objective is interoperability, standards deployment, and stakeholder involvement. The project will start addressing the problem of interoperability along the whole value chain of digital libraries as far as rights information and other content metadata are concerned. It will produce guidelines on applicable standards for content identification and description, and for technical interoperability, to enhance interoperability between public and private digital content collections. The analysis will be based on the concept of "business interoperability": i.e. the capacity for independent business models and public missions to co-exist and grow in a single environment that allows users to access the different content and services regardless of their origin and nature.

The rights information infrastructure will facilitate the search for rights holders and the identification of public domain works, orphan works, out of print works and other copyrighted works, thus helping to manage a key risk in the digital library initiatives - a black hole of missing works that are impossible to digitise because they are in copyright but could be released for inclusion and access if only the rights information infrastructure existed. The broad involvement of rights holders, collective management organisations and libraries provides critical mass to approach the problem at pan-European level. Though inevitably the system will be based upon specific use-cases, it will envisage from the beginning a full European perspective.

ARROW partners include European national libraries, publishers and collective management organisations, which also represent writers, will participate in the project. The broad involvement of all stakeholders in the book value chain is the basis for a cooperative approach and effective solutions. A genuine pan-European dimension is ensured by the inclusion of a significant number of EU Member States. Further organisations have shown their willingness to join the initial partners at a later part of the project.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Project Impact:

  • For libraries:
    • Increase services provided to users
    • Reduce costs of conducting due diligence search
    • Avoid duplication of efforts in digitization
  • For rights holders:
    • Access the content market and benefit from new business models
    • Enhance the control over content lifecycle and rights management
    • Declare rights on orphan works
  • For RROs:
    • Provide more efficient assistance to rights holders
    • Expand existing services
    • Offer new services for e-content rights management
  • For eRetailers:
    • Get higher visibility on the Internet for their collections
    • Provide services to rights holders
    • Reach new potential markets
  • For the European Digital Library:
    • Give access to multiple collections
    • Redirect users to the appropriate resources or services

Expected results:

  • Distributed network of sources for information on copyright status
  • Data about European literary works for the identification of rights holders
  • Guidelines and tools to foster interoperability between private and public collections
  • Guidelines for the identification of the status of a work
  • Creation of an European registry of Orphan Works (ROW)
  • Establishment of Rights Clearance Centres

Lessons learnt

This field will be completed by the submitter when the lessons learnt have been identified and understood.

Scope: International, Pan-European
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