Only 16% of Europe’s film heritage collections has been digitised, according to a new study on Film Heritage from the European Audiovisual Observatory.
Digitisation is key: the availability of films in digital formats opens up new opportunities for access to films. However, digitisation rates are still low: only 15% of all film works in the collections of Film Heritage Institutions (FHIs) are available in digital format (16% for feature films).
Digitisation rate of film collections – out of 32 European film archives which took place in the survey (see chart below).
The vast majority (76%) of films in the collections of FHIs are under copyright. However, assessing the copyright status of a film as well as identifying the rightsholders might be challenging due to the lack of centralised sources of information on rights.
60% of the feature films under copyright are either orphaned works or out-of-commerce.
Online access seems to be an efficient way to improve the access to film collections and expand the audiences but FHIs face legal limitations or uncertainty on how to grant this.
Drawing on the results of a survey targeting the members of the ACE (Association des Cinemathèques Européennes), the report seeks to assess the volume of film works in the collections of European Film Heritage Institutions that are accessible for research and educational purposes, considering both consultations by individual researchers and screenings organised within school or university activities. The study aims at assessing both the demand for films and the extent to which Film Heritage Institutions are able to meet this demand, while pinpointing existing practices and arrangements in the access to films.
The publication also identifies crucial aspects and challenges, touching upon issues such as rights clearance of film works for educational purposes and highlighting the role of digitisation in improving access to films. Finally, the study explores key topics such as the copyright status of the films in the collections, with special attention to orphan and out-of-commerce works.
The report is available for free here.