Whilst Laurie remains heavily involved in SABIP's work on the future of copyright, I want to share a thought with you which struck me at the Banksy exhibition in Covent Garden recently. This scribbled card was displayed amongst the graffiti, chunks of wall and ghetto rat stencils and, for me, it set the black-letter reproduction right in a very real, straightforward way:
As I took my photo (getting sympathetic looks from people who didn't have the heart to tell me I was photographing the wrong thing!) and queued to buy a postcard, I thought about how Banksy was successfully connecting with the exhibition-goers in exploiting his copyright. He understood his target audience and made them understand the give and take of his creative endeavour. I have since looked at his online shop and the copyright notice there is similarly straightforward ("Everything in the shop is free, simply download the file and process the artwork. Please note:This shop is for personal amusement only. Please don't use it to start a business. Thanks.") This keeps the artist in control and highlights the fact that the works do have a value arising from rights which only the artist is entitled to exploit (even if he chooses to exploit these rights by allowing free downloads).
It is well established that people don't always understand the acts restricted by copyright - or, indeed how the underlying copyright regime works. In other words, in order to prevent ignorance, disdain or flouting of the copyright system, "a key necessity if this problem is to be solved is to change the minds of the vast number of, predominantly young, people who think that downloading content without paying for it is OK."
Having been somewhat sceptical of the emphasis on 'education and awareness' in Digital Britain, the consultation on legislative options to address illicit P2P file-sharing and other government papers and industry association initiatives, I am now a convert. I think it is of paramount importance to demonstrate to the wider population (particularly the MySpace generation) the value of creativity and the creative process that the copyright system is designed to protect. If people do not understand the reasoning underpinning the copyright system and the importance of ensuring creators are fairly remunerated for their works, they are far more likely to disregard the entire system as irrelevant in the modern age.
You may think this is all very well and has been said before, which is fair enough. However, what Banksy's scribbled message, displayed amongst the exhibits, tangibly demonstrated to me was that the 'education and awareness' message needs to be tailored to each target audience within the creative industry. What appeals to visitors of Banksy's exhibitions will not affect online gamers, for example. MySpacers will respond in a different way to messages sent to them by their favourite artists than those sent out by the government.
A certain degree of creativity is required in order to get the copyright message across to different groups. Even then, their response to this message and subsequent behaviour will differ in an online as opposed to offline environment, and even from site to site.
Laurie will be blogging soon about the Infopaq case, which raises some important copyright issues.