The Directive 2012/28/UE of 25 October 2012 on certain permitted uses of orphan works creates a system of mutual recognition of orphan works within the EU and provides for an authorization of use of these works by some public institutions in order to achieve aims related to their publicinterest missions, such as libraries, educational establishments and museums.

The Directive defines orphan works as works that are still protected by author rights but whose right holders cannot be identified or located. The Directive provides for a harmonized definition of this concept and for the creation of a central database of orphan works. This database will be available online and managed by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). Prior to be listed and then used, a search for rightholders shall be carried out by the concerned institution(s).

Member States shall provide in their national law for an exception or limitation on the rights of reproduction and representation of authors in order to authorize the public institutions at stake to make the works available to the public and to reproduce the same, in particular for the purpose of their digitization, indexation, restoration of preservation.

Member States shall implement the Directive into their national law by 29 October 2014.