A collection of works contributed by independent writers to a collective work/series is published on three different websites. The individual works are all orphan works (the writers are unknown/anonym to a degree of no ability to contact or identify), and the original publications of the works may be one of the websites or originate from an unknown and unidentifiable or no longer existent source.
Website A is the oldest known publication of the works and describes the copyright and licenses as this: "The collective work/series/setting is to be viewed as "public property" but not as "public domain", and that the copyright is to the original unknown contributors."
Website B and Website C have instead published the works under "Creative Commons By Reference ShareAlike 3.0" (CC-BY-SA 3.0), and do not mention anything about the original writers or any other copyright.
It's not known if any of the websites have the rights themselves to publish the works as they have done. The websites do not inform about it, and the original publishings sites, dates and authors are unknown and can't be verified.
A company wants to make a derivative work in another medium (like video series) based on the collective work/series and will be using the information in the individual works. However, the company is unsure of how to legally use the works.
- What is the current license and copyright status of the works?
- Will the company need to acquire a license?
- From whom would the company be able to obtain a global use license for online digital publishing in this scenario?
- When would the works be under public domain, given the original publish dates and the authors are unknown?
Disclaimer: The questions are not meant to acquire legal advice, and I'm aware that the copyright laws vary from nation to nation, and it would be appreciated the answers where to be defined in either US or EU law or preferably answered based on EU law.