Posted on 4 November 2014

Government responds to Free Our History campaign

The Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, has responded to the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals about the Free Our History campaign to reduce the term of copyright protection in certain unpublished works from 2039 to the author’s lifetime plus 70 years.

In the letter Baroness Neville-Rolfe agrees with the aim of the campaign and highlights the Government’s consultation, Reducing the duration of copyright in certain unpublished works, which was opened following the campaign launch.

Naomi Korn, Chair of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance, said:

“Following the launch of the Free our History campaign, we welcome the Government's consultation into the problem of 2039 and support for addressing these issues. However, we are concerned that the six month timescale outlined in the Minister's letter does reduce the chance of these provisions seeing the light of day before the next General Election. 

We need swift action to resolve this obstacle to accessing our history.

The Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance have a number of concerns that we will express through the consultation, including that if copyright works affected by the 2039 provisions are dealt with by the Orphan Works Licensing Scheme and / or the Directive And their associated due diligence requirements at the very least - this creates unnecessary costs and administration for cultural heritage organisations.

If you care about our history and our collective cultural memory I urge you to sign the petition to make sure the Government prioritises this important issue.”

UCL Library has joined the campaign supporters, which include the National Library of Scotland, the Imperial War Museums, the University of Leeds and the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals.

Up to 50% of archival records in the UK are ‘orphan works’. This is when the rights holder cannot be identified and/or traced. The Imperial War Museum has an estimated 1.75 million documents that are orphan works, approximately 20-25% of the 7.9 million documents in their collections.

The campaign is calling on the UK Government to reduce the term of copyright protection in certain unpublished works from the end of the year 2039 to the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, as per provisions laid out in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) 2013.

Supporters are being asked to sign a petition and use #catch2039 on Twitter to spread the word. More about the campaign.

-ends-

Press contact:

Mark Taylor, Director of External Relations, CILIP
Tel: 020 7255 0654
Mobile: 07792 635 305
Email: mark.taylor@cilip.org.uk

Notes to editors:

1. Letter from Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, to Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of CILIP.

2. Campaign supporters include the Imperial War Museums, the National Library of Scotland, University of Leeds, Collections Trust, UCL Library, Scottish Council on Archives, the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) (UK&Irl) the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) and the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals.

3. The campaign is asking the UK Government to reduce the term of copyright protection in certain unpublished text based works, engravings and anonymous artistic works (except photographs). More about the campaign: www.cilip.org.uk/freeourhistory

3. The number of Orphan Works in UK archives is from “In From the Cold” a 2009 report by Naomi Korn analysing the impact, scale and reasons for Orphan Works across the UK's cultural heritage sector. It was the first study of its kind and draws upon the results of an extensive UK survey of Orphan Works in museums, libraries and archives. The report revealed that across the UK's archives, 40-50% of archival works are likely to be Orphan Works.

4. In October 2014 members of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) raised concerns with the Intellectual Property Minister about delays implementing provisions in the ERRA 2013 relating to issues reducing the copyright terms in certain unpublished text based works, engravings and anonymous artistic works (except photographs) from the end of the year 2039 to lifetime plus 70 years. This delay means that one of the main causes of orphan works will not be alleviated and the large administrative burden and cost that exists for libraries, archives and museums who have to evaluate on an item by item basis the risk and repercussions of both displaying and using a work over 100 years old, still technically in copyright, will remain quite unnecessarily. It is the concern of LACA members that this issue will be lost in Parliamentary process before the 2015 general election.

5. The Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) lobbies in the UK and Europe about copyright and related rights on behalf of its member organisations and UK users of copyright works through library, archive and information services. www.cilip.org.uk/laca 

6. LACA is convened by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. CILIP’s vision is a fair and economically prosperous society underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014.

Library and Information Sector Subject Tags