The assessment of the rights status for audiovisual works is critical for their re-use in commercial distribution or for cultural and educational purposes, for example in the context of large digitization projects. Unfortunately, the rights status of such works is more often than not unclear and very difficult to assess, making a significant amount of works inaccessible. The most relevant problem, making the whole issue on audiovisual rights in Europa so complicated, is the lack of a solid, structured and EU-wide information resource.

In November 2013, FORWARD set out to create an EU wide, standardized system to assess and register the rights status of audiovisual works and to support the diligent search for orphan works.  13 European partners, among them 1o Film Heritage Institutions were working on the project, which has been running for 3,5 years under the co-ordination of Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique.

The main targets of FORWARD were to:

  • Build a pan-European system to assess the rights status of audiovisual works
  • Systemically record the diligent searches performed
  • Create a permanent registry for AV Orphan Works
  • Coordinate with the European Orphan Works Database managed by EUIPO
  • Support European Film Heritage Institutions to implement the Orphan Works Directive

The ACE (Association of European Film Archives and Cinematheques) initiated the FORWARD project in the context of ACE’s advocacy work in the recent years to facilitate rights clearing for films and, in particular, to find a solution for the hundreds of thousand of orphan works preserved in Europe’s film archives. According to an ACE survey carried out in 2010, 21% of the films held in the ACE members’ collections are considered orphan. While the Orphan Works Directive 2012/28/EU provides the political and legal basis to use orphan works, FORWARD will provide technical solutions for supporting the diligent search.

  • Rights Status Assessment and Diligent Searches
    Identifying rights holder of a film is time consuming and therefore expensive. FORWARD has built a tool to support users in assessing the rights status to streamline the diligent search process:
    The system first establishes the protection term of a film to define the work is in copyright or public domain;
    If the film is in copyright, it supports the user to determine if the film is orphan, partially orphan or not orphan;
    According to the requirements of national Orphan works legislations many different sources must be searched before a work can be declared orphan.
    Databases and catalogues from Film Heritage Institutions (FHI)
    External sources: catalogues from, for example, national libraries, information and databases from rights holders: producers, authors and collecting societies
    International authority file registers such as VIAF or IDA, etc.
    FORWARD brought together the information from all these different sources in one system to support the rights assessment and the diligent search. Identified orphan works will be uploaded to the Orphan works database managed by EUIPO. The FORWARD system has been designed in a way that it reflects the variations in national copyright legislations.
    Film Heritage Institutions become National Clearing Centers
    The 10 FHI within the consortium are responsible for the correct representation of their national copyright and orphan works legislations in the system’s workflow. They have enriched their catalogues and databases with information with information that is critical for assessing the rights status of an audiovisual work, for example authors’ death dates.
    Rights Information Infrastructure (RII)
     CINECA, the technical partner in FORWARD, was responsible for the design of the Rights Information Infrastructure (RII), which is the backbone of the FORWARD system – an engine which provides all the functionalities needed to perform diligent searches. It implemented the technical features for establishing the protection term, determining the rights holders, searching in external sources, and documenting the searches perfomed.

  • FORWARD Project
    Framework for a EU-wide Audiovisual Orphan Works Registry
    Overall aim of the FORWARD project is to support audiovisual (AV) archives in Europe to identify orphan works more easily. The FORWARD system supports the assessment of the rights status of audiovisual works and the diligent search for orphan works. 13 partners, among them 10 Film Heritage Institutions (FHI), are working on the 3-years project (2013-2016) under the coordination of Cinémathèque royale de Belgique.
    Why FORWARD?
    A hundred thousands of audiovisual works preserved in European archives are today inaccessible because their rights status is not clear. These works cannot be used neither for commercial distribution, nor for educational and cultural purposes, for example in the context of large digitisation projects. Rights clearing for AV works is a complex process while, at the same time, the resources of archives in identifying and locating rights holders are limited. The most relevant problem is the lack of structured and reliable EU wide information resources. FORWARD provides an innovative solution to respond to this need.
    Main goals of FORWARD
     Create a system that provides high-level information about the rights status of AV works (public domain, in copyright, orphan, partially orphan, not orphan)
     Create an Audiovisual Registry for Orphan Works
     Searching functionality within the FORWARD catalogue among FHIs data and cross-
    referencing FHIs and VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) records through the use
    of identifiers, thus increasing the usefulness of the data through linked data
     Develop export functionalities of rights statements to the EUIPO (European Union
    Intellectual property office) Orphan Works Database
     Explore the interoperability between FORWARD and ARROW
     Establish a network of 10 national rights clearance centres across Europe
    Project n°: CNECT-ICT-PSP-325135 - Co-funded by the Community programme ICT-PSP
    Key figures
     Analysis and application of 11 legal frameworks in Europe to assess the copyright status of AV works
     Import of 492,883 film works and persons from FHI databases into the FORWARD catalogue
     Matching and integration of 26,465,213 records from VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) into the FORWARD catalogue
     Collection and analysis of 279 external data sources for the diligent search (databases and catalogues from FHI, national archives, collecting societies, professional associations etc.)
     Monitoring the implementation of the Orphan Works Directive in 11 member states
    Cinémathèque royale de Belgique/Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief, coordinator (Brussels) | Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (Brussels, Frankfurt) | EYE Film Institute Netherlands (Amsterdam) | Consorzio Interuniversitario – CINECA (Bologna) |
    CNC – Archives françaises du film (Bois d ́Arcy) | Det Danske Filminstitut (Copenhagen) | KAVI – National Audiovisual Insitute (Helsinki) | Instituto de la Cinematografia y Artes Audiovisuales – Filmoteca Espanola (Madrid) | Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna (Bologna) | Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF (Frankfurt) | FOCAL International LTD (Middlesex) | Filmoteka Narodowa (Warsaw) | Národní filmový archiv – National Film Archive (Prague)
    Future Project Events
     Autumn 2016 - Brussels – Project Final Conference (see www.project-forward.eu)  January 2017 − Final release of the Rights Information Infrastructure and
    Audiovisual Registry of Orphan Works
    Cinémathèque royale de Belgique | Véronique Waterschoot | forward@cinematek.be | +32 (0)2 551 19 00 | www.project-forward.eu
    Project n°: CNECT-ICT-PSP-325135 - Co-funded by the Community programme ICT-PSP

  • Once the user selects one or more film titles from the catalogue and asks for a diligent search, the process starts. First of all, the system creates a submission instance (submission = bulk request containing one or more works for which a diligent search is required) collecting the list of the selected works. For each work a process instance is then created as well, along with its process context. The context is like a container that gathers any sort of data necessary for the aims of the diligent search. When the process completes, its context should never be modified. It must remain immutable because the system has to provide a persistent and immutable description of each diligent search. What instead could change and be “live” data are the works from the catalogue, so that any information enriched by a diligent search can serve for any other.

    Before are work can be declared orphan, it is necessary to assess if the film is still under copyright. If any data is missing, the system tries to query some pre-defined external sources or asks the user to manually enter those data. Only when the system states that the work is “Under Copyright” the workflow continues to look for the rights holders. The assisted diligent search process for rights holder determination and orphan status assessment are then performed. The system tries to locate all the rights holders of the work again using some pre-defined external sources or asking the user for manual intervention. After the result is validated the workflow ends.  The following figures give an overview of the diligent search process described here.

    Diligent Search PART 1