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World Copyright Summit Kicks off

June 9, 2009 Leave a comment

The second World Copyright Summit kicked off successfully on Monday evening in Washington DC, and judging by the numbers of participants present and level of interest, it certainly looks like there’s something for everyone here. The main challenge would be how to marshal all the competing interests in copyright into something concrete for all stakeholders going forward.

First of all, the calibre of high profile keynote speakers, panel members, moderators and other attendees is mind boggling. Everyone from US Senators and political lobbyists, to legendary songwriters, international creative artistes and their collection societies appear to be well represented, and as one keynote speakers noted, the participants that are gathered together at this event should be enough to initiate and make lasting change to the global copyright landscape.

So far, on day one, there has been a surfeit of keynote speeches, panels, focus / breakout sessions that acknowledge the key problems of the game-changing nature of digital content production and distribution technologies and the resulting exponential deluge of data that needs to be processed by ill equipped traditional content businesses. This bottle neck, which has been compounded by the sluggish evolution of Intellectual Property mechanisms like copyright in a changing environment, is partly responsible (along with ever pervasive piracy) for the difficulties faced by content industries. This has found resonance in what may well become the Summit’s catchphrase of “Copyright Gridlock”, a term that was used by Michael Heller, (Author of Gridlock Economy), to describe the ill effects of having far too many owners for a common resource.

As a global summit designed to address the issues faced by content industries in a fast changing environment, I think the organisers, CISAC, have done an outstanding job in gathering the right group of people and organisations to debate and try to find the best way forward. It will be very interesting to what outcomes might emerge from this particular summit, but as it has still got one more day to go, I’ll reserve any judgement until the end.

PS. in keeping with my promise to cover this summit as much as possible, I will also be making shorter frequent posts on Twitter which can be found at: http://www.twitter.com/judeumeh

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

The March of Copyright

March 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Nowadays, I feel less inclined to explore symptoms but rather prefer to focus on dealing with what I regard as the key causes of the problems with creative industries and digital content. In case it is not obvious, I am talking about Copyright, and the urgent need to evolve the damn thing, as a major culprit.

In the medical profession, a common approach to treating sick people involves:

  • an examination of the medical history and immediate symptoms (plus medical tests / consultation with other experts as necessary)
  • initial diagnosis based on the facts (and level of expertise / experience with similar cases)
  • a prescription or recommendation for the best possible treatment (may not always be the cheapest)
  • follow up and, if necessary, repeat the above steps until the patient is finally cured

Unfortunately, in this case, the patient is the creative industry, and the symptoms include a constant diarrhoea-like stream of headlines, lawsuits, and various half-baked initiatives; the diagnosis is a multi-vector attack of huge transformational forces that demand fundamental change in the way we do business; and finally, to my mind, the treatment would involve making far-reaching and painful changes to existing culture (and how we value and perceive creative works), as well as a major re-working of the global copyright system.

Thankfully, some initiatives and forthcoming events appear well placed to help move us forward in this direction, mainly by kick-starting the necessary dialogues / processes to evolve copyright into a more effective instrument and universal framework for the emerging digital world. A couple of these event include:

1. The World Copyright Summit – This is a packed two-day conference that will debate and explore the opportunities and challenges facing creative industries, and all content creators, in this transitional phase of the digital revolution (More info on the website at: http://www.copyrightsummit.com/). Judging from the excellent speaker line-up, and the four streams in the conference agenda, this should be an excellent event that draws input from all key stakeholders, and which will hopefully map out a clearer vision on how they can engage better with each other in order to realise the huge potentials of a hyper-connected world (i.e. where the rules must evolve rapidly to match the immense changes brought about by digital technology). In my opinion, this is one to attend if you can make it, and I shall try my best to cover this event as it happens.

2. UK Copyright Consultation – This UK initiative (previously mentioned here) is still ongoing, and has so far elicited over 120 responses, (as well as various workshops and consumer discussions), according to aprogress letter from the CEO of UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). You can still make your voices heard by responding with comments directly to the UK Intellectual Property Office via their website. Furthermore, an independent Strategic Advisory Body for IP (SABIP) has also published a paper on the strategic priorities for copyright.

In conclusion, just like the current G20 Summit, these events are aimed precisely at finding a way to get us out of the mess in which we currently find ourselves, be it the global economic recession or the sickly content industry business models. I also believe that these think / talk fests are a great way to pull together the right input from key stakeholders; but they are only ever likely to realise true value if the outcomes lead to clear and measurable actions that help guide the next crucial steps in the evolution of copyright, (or indeed the world economy), into a universal framework that will better support the ongoing global cultural evolution.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.