Creative brands respond to copyright review

Brand leaders and captains from the creative industries have had their say on the government-commissioned review into how the UK’s copyright and intellectual property system should change to best support creative businesses.

Overseen by Professor Ian Hargreaves, the six-month review concluded in May with 10 major recommendations on copyright and intellectual property (IP) which, if implemented, could add £9.7billion to the economy.

Sounding broadly supportive of the recommendations, a roundtable set up the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CI KTN) said reform is indeed needed to ensure creative firms in the UK “remain competitive.”

Alongside the review’s proposal for a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE), the nature of the advice and guidance that the smallest companies need when dealing with IP management is the critical issue, the roundtable said.

Populated by the likes of Universal Music, and The Guardian News and Media Group, the roundtable sat with Professor Hargreaves this week, as well as a number of government officials, such as those from the Technology Strategy Board.

All the industry representatives agreed that technology and consumer behaviour are advancing at such a pace that existing copyright laws and methods for managing digital rights for content are in danger of becoming redundant.

Partly, this explains the table’s backing for the DCE – a “no-brainer” one representative said, for it will allow individuals to readily buy and sell licences for copyrighted content, potentially from as soon as next year.

Most of the respondents said the exchange should make it much easier to access and pay for copyrighted material, while at the same time allowing rights owners to retain control of how their content is used and sold.

The roundtable’s publishing industry captains were particularly attentive, given that the move towards the digital age has compelled traditional publishers to move to new business models reliant on the use of digital media.

However a greater number of the industry groups wanted to talk more of the shortage of “tailored advice” for them on copyright and intellectual property – a problem Professor Hargreaves flagged in his review.

“There’s a big difference between information and advice,” pointed out Jackie Maguire, chief executive of roundtable member Coller IP, an IP specialist.

“The most critical time for advice is when companies are getting going - the decisions they make to protect their IP assets will govern the way their company builds or doesn’t.”

Gina Fegan, of digital network D-Media, agreed that more needs to be done: “Businesses need to understand why this stuff [IP and copyright] is so important. Given that the basic valuation of their companies depends on it, there is a surprising lack of awareness in the creative community.”

Evidence from the CI KTN’s own IP and Open Source project, run by innovation directory Inngot, chimes with the Review’s emphasis on the need for IP guidance, not just information.

Inngot’s CEO Martin Brassell explained: “The UK creative industries are predominantly made up of innovative SMEs who need to collaborate across open platforms, leaving many questioning how much protection their business and their IP actually have.

“Frameworks are required which facilitate transactions and provide trusted forums to share relevant advice and information if these companies are to realise their true potential.”

CI KTN has made the roundtable debate into a a podcast, and says individuals or businesses who want to have their own say on IP and copyright reform can do so by joining its network.


8th July 2011

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