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Rightholders’ Organisations and Libraries sign groundbreaking MoU on Out of Commerce Works

The representatives of authors, publishers and collective management organisations for text and image based works are proud to be signatories of the Out of Commerce Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), enabled through a dialogue with libraries facilitated by the European Commission. The MoU recognises that the right to authorise the use of an Out of Commerce work is vested in the copyright holder (authors and publishers) and that voluntary solutions with the appropriate support of collective management can be the way forward.

The European Writers’ Council (EWC), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the European Visual Artists (EVA) for the authors and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), the European Publishers’ Council (EPC) and the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) for the publishers acknowledged the MoU as important step in the digitisation and making available to the public of Europe’s cultural heritage. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through collaborative efforts by the stakeholders concerned. The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) and its RRO members, the collectives in the publishing sector, and EVA representing the more specialised collectives for visual art, stated that they are well placed to offer appropriate collective management and licensing solutions to enable works which the authors and publishers have decided to no longer commercialise and which they wish to allow libraries to make available to the public through their digitisation programmes.

We wholeheartedly support the goal of enabling the digitisation of Europe’s heritage with the benefits it brings to society in general and to cultural and creative sectors. Publishers themselves are digitising their own backlists to enable wider access. For other works, to be effective, agreements must be negotiated on a voluntary basis amongst parties concerned with appropriate support to collective licensing schemes.

Respect for the authors’ moral rights is particularly important in the case of Out of Commerce works. There may be a variety of reasons for not making a work available to the public and it is their right to determine whether or how this should be done.

The MoU demonstrates the determination of stakeholders to put in place the means to enable mass digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage by libraries and other publicly accessible cultural institutions. The authors, publishers and collective management organisations who are signatories to the MoU will do their utmost to make sure that the process respects the principles of the MoU and is as smooth and efficient as possible.


RROs can play an important role in enabling the use of Out of Commerce works. The MoU acknowledges this and comes to clear recommendations, including those for accompanying legislation. The initiative is to be welcomed. The MoU is also in line with the planned German project regarding the use of Out of Commerce works, which was jointly developed by the rightholders, the libraries and the German collective management organizations VG WORT und VG Bild-Kunst,” says Dr. Robert Staats, CEO Verwertungsgesellschaft WORT.

“Digitised images are a subject of increasing importance. 64% of digitized objects in the European Library EUROPEANA are visual works comprising items of great diversity, such as photography, maps, art work and others. EVA appreciates the commitment expressed in the MoU to respect authors’ rights in general and those of visual authors in particular.” says Christiane Ramonbordes, President of EVA.

“The MoU recognises the central role of authors, enables a new life to their books through digitisation, and makes it possible for readers to continue enjoying them time after time. Authors appreciate the recognition of their right to decide how this access is organised" says Myriam Diocaretz, EWC, Secretary General.

Fergal Tobin, FEP President said ‘Publishers believe in the virtue of dialogue. Provided that the right conditions are fulfilled, agreements can and will be reached with public institutions to digitise older, out of commerce materials in full respect of the copyright of our authors. It is crucial for our community that citizens of Europe can online access the literary heritage. This is our mission, many of us are digitising our backlist, however there will be titles we won’t digitize and it is then perfectly legitimate that we negotiate with libraries on these titles.


Notes for Editors

The European Publishers Council
The European Publishers Council is a high level group of Chairmen and CEOs of leading European media corporations actively involved in multimedia markets spanning newspaper, magazine, book, journal, internet and online database publishers, and radio and TV broadcasting.

The EPC is not a trade association but a high level group of the most senior representatives of newspaper and magazine publishers in Europe. Members have been working since 1991 to review the impact of proposed European legislation on the press, and then express an agreed opinion to the initiators of the legislation, politicians and opinion-formers with a view to influencing the content of final directives and regulations. The overall objective has always been to encourage good law-making for the media industry.

Mr. Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman and CEO, Impresa, Portugal Ms. Sly Bailey, Chief Executive, Trinity Mirror plc, UK Dr. Carlo de Benedetti, Chairman, Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, Italy Mr. Jonas Bonnier, CEO, Bonnier, Sweden Mr. Oscar Bronner, Publisher & Editor in Chief, Der Standard, Austria Ms. Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive Officer, News International Ltd, UK Mr. Bernd Buchholz, Chief Executive, Gruner + Jahr, Germany Dr. Hubert Burda, Chairman and CEO, Burda Media, Germany Mr. Juan Luis Cebrian, CEO, Groupo Prisa, Spain Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive, Axel Springer AG, Germany Mr. Erik Engstrom, Chief Executive, Reed Elsevier Ms. Rona Fairhead, Chief Executive, Financial Times Group, UK Mr. Tom Glocer, Chief Executive, Thomson Reuters Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck, President and Chairman of the Executive Board, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, Germany Mr. Harri-Pekka Kaukonen, CEO, Sanoma Corporation, Finland Mr. Steffen Kragh, President and CEO, The Egmont Group, Denmark Mr. Murdoch MacLennan, Chief Executive, Telegraph Media Group Ltd, UK Mr Andrew Miller, Chief Executive, Guardian Media Group, UK Mr. James Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corporation, Europe and Asia Mr. Piotr Niemczycki, CEO, Agora, Poland Sir Anthony O'Reilly, President Emeritus, Independent News & Media PLC, Ireland Mr. Antonello Perricone, CEO, RCS Media Group SpA, Italy Mr. Panayotis Psycharis, CEO, Lambrakis Press Group, Greece Mr. Didier Quillot, Chairman and CEO, Lagardère Active, France Mr. Michael Ringier, President, Ringier, Switzerland The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Rothermere, Chairman, Daily Mail and General Trust, UK Mr. Rolv Erik Ryssdal, CEO, Schibsted, Norway Mr. Christian Van Thillo, Chief Executive, De Persgroep, Belgium Mr. Jose Manuel Vargas, CEO, Vocento, Spain

European Visual Artists
European Visual Artists (EVA) represents the interests of European authors' collective management societies for the visual arts in Brussels since the 90ties. 25 European collecting societies for visual creators are gathered under this roof as members or observers. They manage collectively authors' rights of close to 60 000 creators of works of fine art, illustration, photography, design, architecture and other visual works. EVA is official observer of WIPO.

Contact: Carola STREUL, Secretary General
Phone: +32 2 551 08 90
Fax: +32 2 551 08 92

European Writers' Council
The European Writers' Council is the federation of 60 national and trans-national associations in 32 countries of Europe, representing over 120.000 professional authors (writers and literary translators).

The EWC defends the authors’ professional interests, and contributes to solving the challenges faced by the need to give access to culture while keeping a balance with the need of creators to have their moral and economic rights respected in the digital age.
Rue du Prince Royal 87, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium

The Federation of European Publishers
The Federation of European Publishers represents 27 national publishers associations of book publishers from the European Union and the European Economic Area. FEP acts on behalf of its members in discussions and negotiations with the institutions of the European Union notably regarding intellectual property and taxation matters

International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations
The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) is an international, independent, not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of collective management organisations and authors and publishers in the field of text and image based works. These organisations are known as Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs) which administer reproduction and other relevant rights, including certain digital rights, on behalf of both publishers and authors including visual artists.

Active in every continent, it has some 130 members including 55 national and international author, publisher and visual creator associations. IFRRO’s global network of members helps facilitate widespread legal access to published, copyright protected literary, visual and musical works for the public. IFRRO partners international organisations such as WIPO and UNESCO, and regional ones such as ARIPO, OAPI and CERLALC to undertake copyright awareness, capacity building and training activities. Within Europe, IFRRO cooperates with the EU institutions in developing solutions to facilitate access to copyright work.
Further information
James Boyd, IFRRO Communications and Product Development
Tel: + 32 2 234 62 64

International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers
STM is the leading global trade association for academic and professional publishers. It has over 110 members in 21 countries who each year collectively publish nearly 66% of all journal articles and tens of thousands of monographs and reference works. STM members include learned societies, university presses, private companies, new starts and established players. See for more details.