The Commission Communication on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy of October 2009 suggested a series of preparatory actions for follow up initiatives in the next Commission’s strategy on IP. The Communication proposed tackling the issue of orphan works by providing for an EU wide solution to create legal certainty. It announced that the Commission would examine the problem in an Impact Assessment which would explore several options.
The issue was also dealt with by the High Level Group on Digital Libraries; its copyright Subgroup issued a set of recommendations on right clearing centres and databases for orphan works.
In October 2009, the Commission held a hearing on orphan works; in November 2009, the European Parliament organised a workshop on orphan works and access for visually impaired people.
In May 2010, Commissioner Barnier announced at the European Parliament that the Commission would publish a Directive on Orphan Works, to increase legal certainty and support digitisation efforts of our cultural heritage. Mr Barnier called for a European definition of orphan works.
The Commission issued a draft proposal together with an Impact Assessment on 24 May 2011. A rapporteur was designated at the EP, MEP Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D, PL) who issued her report on 27 September 2011. Opinions were voted in the Culture and Education committee and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee of the EP in November and December 2011. On 1 March 2012, the EP report in the Legal Committee has been voted. Meanwhile the Council met under the Polish presidency and the Danish ones to bring some changes to the Directive.
Since the end of March the Council, the EP and the Commission have been meeting for trilogues and technical meetings in order to reach agreement on one text to be voted in one reading in September 2012.