The British Film Institute (BFI) is set to benefit from plans to allow commercial access to orphan works; content where the rights owner can not be identified or found.

The proposed legislation set out in the Digital Britain report, published on June 16, will allow content creators to use material, including for commercial gain, without the consent of the rights holder but subject to appropriate safeguards.

The changes would benefit all archive organisations as, at present, people who use the orphan works such as books, film or photographs on a commercial scale risk civil and criminal liability. Currently organisations are not able to restore or make copies of orphan works, even for preservation purposes.

A BFI spokesperson said: “The BFI has welcomed many of the recommendations in Lord Carter’s Digital Britain, particularly around the Government’s position on orphan rights issues”.

Under the new proposals it will be able to restore and make high quality preservation copies of the orphan works it holds available to the public. Any money made by the BFI from public access, screenings, DVDs, will be saved to cover the cost of the copyright should the owner ever become known.

The report also reveals plans to create a  $16m (£10 m) Next Generation Digital Test Beds programme, which will fund non-commercial testing of  IP protection and new revenue streams. The Government plans to work with UK “innovators” who are involved in research, trials and market experiments to establish what might work in the new digital age.

The Technology Strategy Board, abusiness-focused organisation dedicated to promoting technology-enabled innovation across the UK, will lead and co-ordinate the investment in the test beds.

The focus will be on issues such as monetising online content such as video on demand, and alternative business models that encourage the sharing and exploitation of intellectual property to reduce incentives for piracy.

The report also tackles the subject of digital education. It recognises the importance of learning to ‘read films’ and of young people being digitally literate. It also proposes that film is used more creatively across the curriculum.

The Government intends to develop a national curriculum offering opportunities in digital skills for entry-level school children, as well as Further Education and Higher Education students, in a bid to equip the incoming work force with the relevant digital skills.