2015 is set to be the year of copyright debate. My friends at the IPKat Blog describe here how things are hotting up, following the European Commission publishing its Report on responses to last year's Copyright Consultation, and, as IPKat reports, the EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, once again made clear on Twitter that having “modern copyright rules” is one of the key goals for 2015.
You'll know how quickly the copyright debate becomes polarised. But I'm going to take the risk of being labelled 'luddite' when I take issue with the charge that copyright, at least in its current form, is a barrier to innovation and creativity or, put in another way, that reforming copyright law will, in and of itself, unleash a torrent of pent up innovation. That's certainly the charge laid at copyright's door by 'Copyright for Creativity' in their Copyright Manifesto and in the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs Draft Report on the Copyright Directive.
Often, the real challenge is nothing to do with copyright but is about finding viable business models that deliver the consumer what he or she wants whilst ensuring a fair reward for the creator of that content. This is apparent in the current debate about streaming vs. downloads in the music industry, and their respective implications for artistes, and in the publishing industry about subscription vs. sale of e-books.
That isn't to say that the current copyright framework is perfect or should not be adapted in certain specific cases where evidence demonstrates the need for change. But I do challenge the assumption that copyright lawe in its current form is a barrier to innovation. A willingness to take risks, technological expertise, innovative business models and toleration of failure - these are the foundations on which Silicon Valley and Israel's 'Start-Up' nation have been built and which exist here in the UK too.
There are plenty of instances of innovation within our current framework. Look, for instance, at how publishers are making content available under open licences via API's. Look at the proliferation of new platforms for self-publishing.
So let's have that debate about copyright. But let's make sure that it is a rounded, evidence-based and multi-dimensional.The European Publishers Council's 2014 Vision Paper entitled 'From Vision to Reality: Copyright Enabled on the Network', to which I contributed, presented a framework based on '3 digital elements' - (1) technology, linking the different parts of the digital content networks together in a seamless, machine readable way; (2) an enabling copyright framework and (3) practical and viable, user-relevant solutions, including innovative licensing.
The key point made in the EPC's paper is that realising the full potential for the digital content does not depend on any one element by itself. Rather, it is their combination. With initiatives like the Copyright Hub, the future lies in completing the technical infrastructure so that finding, clearing and consuming copyright content is just one click away, and of course in a way which that accomodates uses allowed under exceptions.
Have a good week,