Launch of the EUIPO Out of Commerce Works Portal: EWC President Nina George stresses the need of a reliable opt-out mechanism for authors

EWC

Posted on June 07, 2021, 6:00 pm
6 mins

On June 7, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) presented the newly launched portal for out of commerce works. Eight speakers discussed the challenges authors and cultural heritage institutions may face. 

Launch of the EUIPO Out of Commerce Portal. Statement by Nina George: 1:14:10.

During this online event, the EUIPO presents the newly launched portal for out of commerce works, and explains how CHIs, CMOs and rights holders, for example authors and publishers, can engage with it. Representatives from these sectors shared their expectations and talked about collaboration to ensure the success of the out of commerce works provisions. The event was co-organised by Europeana, the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), the European Visual Artists (EVA), and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO). It took place on 7 June 2021. 

Speakers

  • Krzysztof Nichczyński, DG CNECT, European Commission
  • Gyta Berasneviciute, EUIPO
  • Szabolcs Dancs, Hungarian Library Institute at the National Széchényi Library
  • Maarten Zeinstra, IP Squared / KVAN
  • Arlette Bekink, Pictoright
  • Walter Swagemakers, EYE Film Institute
  • Nina George, Novelist, President of the European Writers’ Council
  • Matthias Ulmer, CEO, Ulmer Verlag
 

Read the full statement by the European Writers’ Council, presented by President Nina George and submitted by a pre-recording:

“Dear Ariadna Matas, dear Colleagues and Speakers:

My name is Nina George, I am a writer since 1992 – and I have the honour of serving as President of the European Writers’ Council, the Federation of 46 writers’ organisations from 31 countries.

Technology makes it possible to replicate myself digitally:  I am speaking here at the Launch of the EUIPO Out of Commerce Works Portal, while the EWC is holding its Annual General Assembly.

My thanks go out to Europeana that I may convey a recorded statement on behalf of the Book-authors of Europe.

It is a special day in several aspects; in many member countries, the DSM Directive on Copyright comes into force, which is intended to raise equality between authors and publishers, to strengthen economic and moral rights, to ensure the diversity of books.

At the same time, the implementation of the Directive opens up the way to the rediscovery of the book heritage, and shall enable libraries, for example, the centuries-old allies of books and their authors, to give digital access to out-of-commerce works after a certain period of time – hopefully in agreement with the roots of this heritage: the authors.

The rights to use a work revert to the author after it leaves the market, a mechanism that is often contractually and/or legally regulated. Therefore, the future operation of the  Portal needs naturally to focus on authors. It is up to them to decide individually whether and how the life cycle of their work can be extended. Accordingly, the process of opting out will face at least three challenges for rightsowners (the authors) and for Cultural Heritage Institutions:

First: Publicity, to reach the highest level of information possible.

As established in the Directive on Copyright, there must be wide publicity at national level, to ensure that authors are made aware of the Institutions’ digitisation plans, and that they have access to the link to and information in the portal, and to ensure that this information is available from the start of the six months-period of notice.

Second: Authors’ Rights and the Opt-out function

There are several reasons for authors to opt-out, and this must be respected:
Economic reasons for example. The author may be publishing or has
recently published a revised version of the work, and the out-of-commerce
version will therefore compete with the new version. A poet might compile a new collection of poems from earlier published poetry books, a crime writer moves on to self-publishing, an author may win a prize and his/her early works will be published again.

Third:  The author’s Moral rights.

Moral Rights are not transferred, ever. The moral rights comprise a wide scope of reasons for authors to opt-out, as my personal example may show: I have published thirty books in twenty-four years, and not all were a brilliant hit – I want to put my youthful sins back into the drawer. Or: a non-fiction author with new findings on his/her topics does not want the outdated data to be spread.Last comment: A crucial, most essential principle is that  the portal should    attend to the rights of writers and translators in compliance with the Directive:

Keep the wording legally correct. The opt-out option must be inclusive, and author-friendly: The Directive on Copyright in the DSM uses the concept of “authors”. Not “creators”. The European Writers’ Council asked for this legal concept to be applied throughout in the portal.

We hope that this has been remedied.

I congratulate the project leaders on the tremendous achievement of launching the portal today and wish the readers of the future an exciting journey of discovery through the heritage of European writers’ voices.”

–Nina George, 7 June 2021

To the Website of Europeana

To the IFRRO Out-of-Commerce-Works-Guide