Copyright in the Digital Age

Still the bedrock of creativity and the creative industries

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●     New EU Copyright Act takes another step

●     Filesharing highlights collision of free speech and copyright

●     Introduction to Collective Licensing seminars

●     Brexit and the realpolitik of trade agreements

●     Three post graduate bursaries in copyright

●     Orphan Works Database given user approval

●     Seven-year-olds given copyright lessons to curb online piracy

●     Why Europe’s New Copyright Proposals Are Bad News for the Internet

●     ‘EU copyright legislation will not change in UK after Brexit’ argues Kaye

●     EU copyright reform proposals “sensible” say publishers

●     Publishers stress importance of Robust Copyright Regime Post Brexit

●     Congratulations to Dr. Aislinn O’Connell

●     Fit for Change? Copyright for Publishers in the Digital Age – Abstract/Intro

●     Copyright thesis – Chapter 1 Literature Review

●     Copyright thesis Chapter 2 – A Historical investigation of copyright

●     Copyright Thesis Chapter 3 – Legal Investigation

●     Copyright thesis Chapter 4 – Blocking initiatives

●     Copyright thesis Chapter 5 – Copyright and the UK Economy

●     Copyright thesis Chapter 6 – The Hargreaves Exceptions

●     Copyright thesis Chapter 7 – Alternative approaches

●     Copyright thesis – Conclusions

●     Index, List of Abbreviations, Tables of Cases & Legislation, Bibliography, Appendices 1&2

●     World Book and Copyright Day

●     EU’s new action plan for copyright and digital platforms

●     Google News Leaves Spain

●     Exceptions impact on business: air your views on 20 October 2014

●     Last Copyright Exceptions Come Into Force Today

●     Copyright and the UK Economy

●     Copyright Briefing – July 14

●     Culture of the Public Domain – A Good Thing?

●     An Employment Focus on the Creative Industries

●     Copyright exceptions back on track

●     Exceptions Update

●     LBF14 – Day 2

●     LBF14 – Day 1

●     New Director for Copyright and Enforcement Speaks

●     Copyright and the Future of Global Content Industries

●     Commons Committee warns against diluting IP rights

●     CLSG Launch Report: Streamlining Copyright Licensing for the Digital Age

●     IPso FACTo debate at Stationers Company

●     Publishers Launch Global Exchange on Copyright

●     Funding given to kick-start Copyright Hub

●     IPO thoughts on copyright and the economic effects of parody

●     Modernising copyright – February 2013

●     Stationers and UCL in joint copyright research initiative for communications and content industries

●     Government publishes proposals for changes to UK copyright

●     Stationers offer bursary to copyright research student

●     Hooper recommends UK Copyright Hub

●     Copyright adds extra £3 billion to national accounts

●     Hargreaves warned on damaging UK creative industries

Stationers’ IPso FACTo debate part of IP project

What has copyright ever done for us?

By Aislinn O’Connell, Stationers’ Copyright Bursary Student

On Monday, 17th June, I had the privilege of attending a debate, cleverly entitled IPso FACTo, hosted by the Stationers Copyright and IP Project. The debate was chaired by Philip Walters MBE and featured Sarah Faulder and David Worlock arguing for and against, nominally. The pointer questions posed were:

  • What has copyright ever done for us?
  • Is copyright an inhibitor or an enabler culturally?
  • Are there interesting commercial solutions to this?
  • By defending copyright, do we, paradoxically, collude in its destruction?

While both sides ably put forward their arguments, with Faulder arguing that copyright is the essential underpinning driving economic growth and innovation, and Worlock advocating a more data-focussed approach, the overriding opinion in the room was that copyright as a mechanism is not broken, just slow to catch up with the digital revolution.

One cannot help but feel, however, that a room full of people whose businesses and livelihoods are built on the existing model of copyright will not be the first to declare it broken and scrap it for a new model of rights. The concept held dear by many digital natives, that information is or should be free, was not one which was particularly supported by the guests present. However, one must bow to the years of experience assembled in the room and accept that the free dissemination of works which require time and effort to produce, while an admirable notion, is not one which is particularly economically sound. Once one accepts that the prevailing attitude in the room was to adapt, not abolish, the existing copyright model, some interesting points were raised.

Perhaps the most entertaining point was that raised by Clive Bradley CBE. A long-time colleague of Worlock, his impassioned defence of copyright as a method of remunerating content creators certainly gave one pause for thought. His pragmatic approach was refreshing to listen to.

The points were also made that also noted that paywalls are becoming less effective as the industry struggles to keep up with the users. Paywalls and other systems of payment can reduce userbases and income – this paints a worrying picture for the future. The fact is, nobody has created a viable alternative to copyright, and thus it is alarming to think that the current model is not working – this assertion is not backed up by statistical analysis, but the fact is, the average person infringing copyright is not a large-scale content thief, but an everyday user. The pervasive breaching of copyright is a sign that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

One of the most pertinent points which I felt came from the evening’s discussion was the assertion that publishers need to present a better view of what it is they do. While the notion persists that publishers are merely a middleman hiking up costs but not adding value, consumers will resent the extra price. The essential function of the publisher is adding value to content – this needs to be communicated to consumers. The value-add of publishers is what makes their existence viable.

The truth of the matter is that the future is already here. Publishers are playing a game of catch-up and they’re at a distinct disadvantage behind the digital natives. The Stationers have lasted for centuries, from burning unauthorised books to establishing the concept of copyright some three hundred years ago. The notion of adaptation and reinvention is not a new or unusual challenge for anyone. While it was perhaps a little disappointing that the room was firmly in agreement on the basic functionality of copyright, it was nonetheless an entertaining and engaging debate.

© Copyright in the Digital Age