February 05 2014
What is the registry of unavailable books in electronic reissue

Discover what ReLIRE register is, who created and how it works.

Here are details of the ReLIRE catalogue, who creates it and how it operates (…)°

What is ReLIRE?

The Registre des Livres Indisponibles en Réédition Electronique (Catalogue of out-of-print books re-published digitally - ReLIRE) was created by legislation dated 1 March 2012 as a database of twentieth century books that are out-of-print. This catalogue can be accessed free of charge at and is operated by the BNF (French National Library). It contains 60,000 books and will be updated annually on 21 March.

By introducing this catalogue, the legislation makes it possible to digitise books; it therefore avoids the need to re-negotiate each contract on a case-by-case basis. The catalogue enables authors, publishers and rights holders to challenge the inclusion of their works in the arrangement. Failing this, the books will come under collective management in the autumn of 2013. They could then be offered for sale in digital form.

Whether you are an author or publisher, if you agree to your books being included in the management scheme you need take no further action. If you have no objections, SOFIA will exercise on your behalf the digital rights over the books involved: it will issue digital commercialisation licences for the book and will pay you the resultant remuneration.

You can object to the BNF to the incorporation of your book n the collective management process within six months of its inclusion in the catalogue.

After 21 September 2013, if no objections are being processed or have been accepted in respect of a book, it will become subject to collective management; it can then be commercialised by a publisher, and hence digitised and offered for sale.

As author or rights holder, you can at any time withdraw your books from collective management (if you and your publisher make a joint withdrawal, if you are the sole holder of digital rights or if you consider that reproduction or re-issue might prejudice your honour or reputation).

What is the purpose of the ReLIRE catalogue?

The catalogue is open to the general public and enables all users to research the law regarding out-of-print works from the twentieth century, to consult the book list and to investigate the collective management system. There are three types of operation that can be undertaken within the catalogue:


- Locate books: by carrying out a search by title, author, publisher, ISBN Number, etc.


- Object to the inclusion of a book in collective management with a view to its digital commercialisation.


Authors, rights holders and publishers can object to the inclusion of their book in collective management on the basis of the detailed announcement of the catalogue prior to 21 September each year. They can also use one of the *.pdf forms available for download on the site for the submission of an objection. The BNF collects the requests, checks that they are in order, and forwards them to SOFIA for processing. After 21 September, requests for withdrawal are to be submitted to SOFIA.


- Indicate the commercial availability of a work: there is no interprofessional data base within France that lists digital availability; this availability is variable. Users of the catalogue may indicate the availability of a work – prior to its adoption within the collective management system – by providing the information needed to confirm its status (publisher’s details, link to the author’s website or to the book’s abstract on the website of an on-line bookshop, etc.).


To be classified as available, a book must be accessible to the public on a permanent basis, outside the second hand book market. But availability may not be solely commercial. The book may be available free of charge, if for example an author offers it on his website.


It is also possible to indicate where books have been catalogued in error, whether they are in the public domain, published before 1901 or have been published abroad.


- Finally, one can indicate an error in the abstract of a book. Twentieth century abstracts often reflect cataloguing practices which have evolved. Notify the BNF of any error in the abstract of a book and the ReLIRE team will then be able to correct this.


Remember: objections submitted by authors, rights holders and publishers may be forwarded to the BNF during the six-month period that follows the publication of the list. Such objections will result in the books concerned being excluded from collective management in future.


In this first list of 60,000 titles, 680 books have been notified as available. 350 requests for inclusion in the next list have been submitted to the BNF.


Who created the ReLIRE catalogue?


The BNF, as a government body, is tasked by legislation with the creation, maintenance and publication of a list of out-of-print books in a public database that is freely available on line.


The database was created by reference to the BNF’s general catalogue. This reference activity relies on the description of the works submitted to the BNF as required by law. It collects and conserves all documents


available to the public in France, and in particular books, in both printed and digital form. The bibliographical notes produced are used by a wide range of other French libraries to augment their catalogues.


The first version of the list was prepared by cross-checking between the data held by the BNF and that of Electre. The ReLIRE team within the BNF creates and manages out-of-print works and creates the ReLIRE website.


The creation of the list of out-of-print books and of documentary choices is the responsibility of a scientific committee instituted by decree from the Culture Minister. This committee consists of three representatives from the authors, three from the publishers and one from the BNF. The committee chairman is elected by the members for a period of one year, alternating between the representatives of the authors and the publishers.




The committee also welcomes three observer members on a consultative basis: one representing the Minister of Culture, one qualified observer designated by the Minister of Culture and a representative of the approved collective management society (SOFIA). They are appointed for a three-year period, and can be re-appointed.


An annual update of out-of-print books


On 21 March 2014, as in 2013 and then every year on the same date, a new list of out-of-print books will be published by the BNF on the ReLIRE website.


To generate this list, the scientific committee will:
- identify the method to be used to establish the unavailability status of a book,
- identify documentary lines that must be taken into account,
- examine requests for additions.


- In 2013, the list included books that for the most part were concerned with the following major subjects: literature 45%, human and social sciences 42%, history 13%. In the youth sector, only novels were included in this initial list.


In terms of chronological spread, 75% of books on the initial list were published between 1981 and 2000. The very few publications post 2000 (1%) concerned earlier works of which at least one edition had been published in the twentieth century.


- In 2014, the scientific committee will use the historic rating system (“cotation Clément”) in the creation of its list.


Between the end of the seventeenth century and 1997, all documents deposited with the BNF were catalogued into 23 sub-divisions (from A to Z). This type of classification was devised by Nicolas Clément, Royal Guard, at the end of the seventeenth century. This letter was subdivided into chapters (with an alphabetic character, for example Ln), then into subdivisions (with a numerical identifier, for example Ln27).


The scientific committee will examine the volumes of books identified in the various subdivisions of the “cotation Clément”; it will select the subdivisions from the listing that correspond to the themes adopted for 2014: history, literature, human and social sciences.


The criteria used to determine which works should be extracted from the catalogue to create the list are as follows:


- translations, books in foreign languages, books published abroad except in the case of joint publication with a French publisher, are all excluded;
- the alphanumeric coding of the selected abstracts must correspond to the coding of the
cotation Clément selected by the scientific committee;
- works in the public domain are removed;
- the abstracts are then regrouped by works;
- finally, available books are withdrawn.
By this means the annual list of out-of-print books is generated.



The BNF will make use of the European ARROW Project (Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works Towards Europeana) in the generation of the 2014 list.


The aim of the ARROW project is to enable any user, via an interface developed at European level, to check if a work is available, out-of-print or orphaned, and to obtain information about rights holders. ARROW is based on a federated database. It enables the process of identifying authors, publishers and rights holders of a work to be rationalised and could in the future provide details about the status of the work and its availability, and hence confirm if it could be included in the register.


Out-of-print books become subject to collective management


If, six months after the date of publication of the catalogue of out-of-print books, no objection is being investigated or has been validated in respect of a book, the latter becomes subject to collective management.


In this case, an exclusive ten year licence will be offered by SOFIA to the original publisher of the book, if the latter is still trading and if he still holds the rights to the printed book.


If the original publisher does not want to take advantage of an exclusive ten year licence, any digital operator may request a non-inclusive five year licence.


If the publishing contract has expired, the author and publisher may contact SOFIA to confirm who has the publication rights. If the author, as sole holder of these rights, sees one of his books digitised and commercialised, he will receive all rights payments made by SOFIA in respect of the commercialisation of the licences.


After the 21 September of the year in which the book was entered in the register, the author may ask SOFIA to withdraw his book from collective management.


There are three possible scenarios:


1. Joint withdrawal by the author (or rights holder) and the publisher,
2. Withdrawal by the author (or rights holder) as sole holder of digital rights,
3. Withdrawal by the author (or rights holder) on the grounds that his honour or reputation might be adversely affected.




If you are the author of a book that has entered collective management and this book has been the subject of commercialisation, it will be digitised, and advertised to the public through bookshop networks, sites that specialise in book sales or libraries that are open to the public. These operations give rise to remuneration. SOFIA will collect and distribute these sums in accordance with the law.


SOFIA’s licence committee has identified conditions for remuneration and the quality criteria for the digitisation that need to be met before licences are granted.


Digitisation quality and data accuracy must meet the highest possible standards;
- Processing can be achieved using a text mode (epub, xml, HTML formats etc.) and/or in image mode (PDF image, PNG formats, etc.);
- the book must be available as a minimum in a non-proprietary format, and from a wide range of representative sales outlets;
- each book must be commercially available as single copies and in its entirety to the private client. It may also be offered for sale to communities;
- technical protective measures will be implemented to ensure that the commercialisation procedures provided for in the licence can be followed, in accordance with the law and to ensure respect of the legitimate rights and interests of rights holders.  


Remuneration conditions


- where exclusive licences have been awarded, the royalties paid by the publisher to SOFIA will be 15% of the book’s retail price, with a minimum guaranteed sum of 1.00 euro, regardless of the retail price.


- For non-exclusive licences, the rate will be 20% with a minimum guaranteed sum of 1.00 euro. This remuneration will be shared equally between the author and the original publisher, with a minimum guaranteed sum of 0.75 euro for the author.


If a distributer with a non-exclusive licence offers the book in a single proprietary format or through a single retail outlet, the rate of royalty rises to 30% and the minimum guarantee to 1.50 euro, of which the author will receive 1.15 euro.


The quality requirements are identical in all cases. If the author has reclaimed his rights, the remuneration will be paid to him in full.


These rules have been approved by the Board of Directors of SOFIA, to whom the licensing committee reports. They are intended to ensure proper conditions for the commercial exploitation of written works and appropriate remuneration of rights holders.