Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
11 October 2016
Stationers’ Foundation Research Student gains PhD for copyright thesis
A three-year bursary at UCL, organised and funded by the Stationers’ Foundation, charitable arm of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, has enabled Aislinn O’Connell to be awarded a PhD for her thesis ‘Fit for Purpose? Copyright for Publishers in the Digital Age’.
Aislinn said of her achievement: “I am delighted (and more than a little relieved) to say that I am indeed now Dr O’Connell, which I am taking great delight in writing on anything and
Dr. Aislinn O’Connell – taking great delight in writing Dr. on everything everything I can get my hands/a pen on.
“Thank you Stationers and the other sponsors for all your help over the course of this (surprisingly long) PhD programme. I really do appreciate the chance which was provided to me. It was, I think, a learning experience in more ways than one.”
The concept of supporting a Phd studentship in copyright was conceived by Trevor Fenwick, chairman of Euromonitor, who, with another Stationer, Ian Locks, secured funding for the project from Publishers Licensing Society (PLS), Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), Pearson and Trevor’s company Euromonitor.
Trevor Fenwick said: “As Aislinn suggests, the project has taken rather longer than at first envisaged but we are delighted that Aislinn has been awarded her Doctorate and that the result for the industry is the first researched-based business case for the continuance of copyright.”
He added he hoped the three-year PhD bursary would be the first of a continuing programme of support for research into copyright and the development of professional resource in this key area for the future of creative work.
In her thesis Dr. O’Connell highlights the Digital Revolution, starting in the mid-20th century and stretching to the present day, as one of many ages of man which have heralded great change. At the time of the invention of the modern computer, nobody had any idea of the impact which it would have on the world. The proliferation and accessibility of computers has had a knock-on effect in the world of content – obtaining and storing digital media is often easier – and certainly cheaper – than legally obtaining creative content, and attitudes to copyright may be considered to be shifting together with this paradigm change.
The research project is set then, in an arena where the ground is shifting as we speak – the change in how we obtain, use and re-use content has forced content owners as well as legislators to change the way they think about the copyright framework as it stands. Thus, is copyright still fit for purpose? This is the question this thesis answers.
This research project approaches the field of copyright with regard to the digital revolution and asks – how has the digital shift affected copyright? – what changes have been made in response to this shift? – what is the value of copyright to the UK economy? – can the copyright regime as it stands adapt to the digital revolution? – if change must be made, what form should that take?
Focusing on publishing, the thesis considers first some of the most important literature of recent years which consider similar issues – how copyright laws and structures have adapted to the digital shift, or if massive change is required in order to encourage the digital growth which is so important in the modern world. It considers national and international literature, with a particular focus on the Anglophone world.
In order to gain a full understanding of the copyright framework as it stands, the thesis goes to the first principles of copyright. It traces the development of copyright and the attitudes around copying books from pre-legislative systems through the Statute of Anne to the complex body of mixed European and national legislation which currently regulates content creators’ rights over their content, tracing the development of attitudes toward copyright and the stated aim of many copyright laws – to promote the development of arts and sciences, to protect content creators, and to allow authors and artists to make a living from their work.
The thesis then considers the current legal framework of copyright, especially with regard to the issues thrown up by the digital shift. It outlines the methods of copyright enforcement available to content creators and rightsholders, from small courts up to the large-scale systems implemented in order to combat piracy. The chapter analyses the graduated response systems implemented both legislatively and voluntarily in France, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, comparing their implementation and successes. It also discusses the development of blocking injunctions under the InfoSoc Directive, known as s97A orders in the UK. It traces the development of the orders from its original court case though to the variety of types of website now available through judicial order. Similar provisions have been implemented in Ireland, and the chapter compares the two jurisdictions.
Finally, this chapter considers the copyright exceptions implemented in 2014 on the back of the recommendations of the Hargreaves review, all of which were designed to modernise the UK copyright framework. It lists and briefly analyses the six exceptions, and their path to implementation, more than three years after their suggestion.
Two particular exceptions are picked out and studied in detail – the private copying and TDM exceptions. The implementation and repeal of the private copying exception is considered, as well as the implementation of the text and data mining exception in the UK, from the call for an exception, through implementation. The similar call for an exception at European level is also considered, through the publications offered by interested parties – notably LIBER – and an analysis of three reports published in 2014 which for the Commission on TDM. This case study exception allows a greater understanding of the flexibility inherent in the copyright system, both in the UK and the wider European Union.
From there, the thesis moves to consider the economic importance of the copyright industries to the UK economy. Using guidance from the World Intellectual Property Office, the chapter assessed the contribution to GDP of the core copyright industries in the UK in 2010-12. It then compares this with figures obtained using the same framework from other WIPO countries. The chapter considers the figures published annually by the UK Intellectual Property Office, which give the contributions to GDP and employment of the creative industries. The chapter then uses a combination of these two frameworks to create an overall picture of the UK creative and copyright industries – a thriving sector of the economy which is consistently contributing more than 5% of UK GDP.
Finally, the thesis considers the attitudes and policies of both the European Union and the United Kingdom government toward copyright reform in the coming years, as well as a discussion of some of the movements which have developed within the copyright framework as it stands – most notably the open access movement, which has opened swathes of academic and other research up to new access and adaptations, and fundamentally changed the framework of the UK’s academic publication structures.
The thesis concludes by offering a suggestion that the copyright structure as it currently stands is sufficiently flexible to accommodate the changes which have inevitably arrived in the wake of the digital shift. While improvements could be made, and the implementation of new exceptions has allowed copyright users and owners to make easier use of the proliferation of copyright material which is available in our digitally connected world, the copyright framework as it stands in the UK is largely fit for purpose, and suitable to continue, subject to monitoring, to govern the use and licensing of creative works for many years to come.
Further information from
Ian Locks – firstname.lastname@example.org Mob: 07710099343