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Orphan Works

Guidance on searching for copyright holders to obtain permission to reproduce a clip of footage 

Orphan works are copyright works where one or more right holder is unknown or cannot be located. The UK Intellectual Property Office has issued some guidance for diligent search which you can read using this link. These guides will be helpful if you decide to apply for a licence under the orphan works licensing scheme, which requires a diligent search to be completed. They include details on the sources that applicants must consult and a non exhaustive list of additional sources which might be helpful. They have been developed through working with professionals in the relevant sectors. Checklists to show that you have completed a diligent search have also been published, which may be used in the application process.


1) You can use FOCAL International's Footage & Content Finder describing the footage you have found and giving an online link to the images if possible. Your message will go out to all of our library members and if they recognise the images as their's they will get back to you and be able to license the material.

NB. We do not represent all footage libraries worldwide, but using this faciity could form part of the many methods you need to try, as part of your dilligent search, in order to estabish whether there is an existing copyright holder of the work.

2) We recommend that you employ a professional Footage / Archive Researcher to search for a possible copyright holder of the images, To do this please use FOCAL International's Skills & Services Finder and specify that you require the researcher to conduct a 'dilligent search' for you which needs to be supported with relevant paper trails which will satisfy the UK Intellectual Property Office (see guidelines for diligent search).