Together with the emergence of digital libraries, the need to provide pragmatic solutions to the challenges of orphan works, out of print books and clearance of protected material has arisen. In 2008, under the leadership of the Italian Publishers Association (AIE), FEP undertook a project under the EC programme eContent+, called ARROW: Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works towards Europeana.
The project aimed at creating an interoperable search infrastructure, a distributed network of national databases to facilitate retrieving information about the rights status of works and a set of tools for both public and private organisations who wish to contact active rightholders to seek copyright clearance for the reuse of content; it also collected information on current and emerging business models and explored possible systems facilitating co-existence and interoperability between public institutions and commercial publishing initiatives, drawing from the emerging European solutions driven by the private sector.
This infrastructure will include, but not be limited to, the creation of a European distributed registry of orphan works and access to a network of existing clearance centres for out of print works, in line with the recommendations 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 e-content providers.
The rights information infrastructure will facilitate the search for rightholders and the identification of public domain works, orphan works, out of print works and other copyrighted works, which could be released for inclusion and access if only the rights information infrastructure existed. The broad involvement of rightholders, collective management organisations and libraries provides critical mass to approach the problem at pan-European level.
The project ran for 2.5 years, from September 2008 to February 2011; it led to the setting up of the planned infrastructure and to the piloting of the system in four countries: France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Since 2010 most of the project partners worked also on the enhancement and extension of the project: this led to the setting up of the ARROW+ project under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme 2007-2013. The project aims at sustaining the current developments by enhancing the system already in place following use case requirements and integrating a wider range of countries, as well as piloting the inclusion of images embedded in books in its scope. ARROW+ started in April 2011; FEP is leader of Work Package 3: Organising and coordinating national initiatives.