Out of Commerce works Working Group

This Working Group provides a space to exchange information and recommend approaches to successfully use the legal solution to make out of commerce works available online.

Posted on Wednesday April 20, 2022

Updated on Friday May 6, 2022

Helsinki railway station, perspective drawing from the central hall
Helsingin rautatieasema, perspektiivipiirustus keskushallista
Saarinen, Eliel
Museum of Finnish Architecture


The Copyright in the Digital Single Market (CDSM) Directive created a legal solution so that cultural heritage institutions (CHIs) from across the European Union can share out of commerce works (OOCWs) online without the need to ask rights holders for permission. The aim is to solve the problem of the 20th century blackhole - the very low number of 20th century material available because of the difficulty to clear rights to publish these works online.

The OOCWs provisions in the CDSM Directive are an important opportunity for many cultural heritage institutions to overcome one of their most important copyright problems.

However, some challenges stand in the way of its success. These mainly consist of a lack of awareness of the OOCWs provisions; a general distrust on how much the OOCWs solution can help, given that this legal solution’s predecessor (the Orphan Works Directive) was difficult to rely on; insufficient knowledge on the legal and practical details to make use of the OOCWs provisions and some uncertainty due to questions that come up progressively (for example, on the use of the exception or the licence, or the availability and negotiation of licences with collective management organisations (CMOs)).


The aim of the working group is to encourage the use of the OOCWs provisions, and more specifically to raise awareness of the availability of the OOCWs provisions, to take a coordinated approach into addressing certain challenges and questions, and to build capacity and confidence in interpreting and using (the legal and practical aspects of) the OOCWs provisions.