In the world of digital media law, it’s easy to miss the wood for the trees. That’s because the ‘digital shift’ represents a complex set of interactions of ‘multi-track’ and inter-related change - in the law, consumer behaviour and attitudes, organisational structures, technology, traditional supply chains and business models.
This is really well illustrated in the research themes of ‘CREATe’, the cross disciplinary research project launched last Friday in Glasgow by a consortium of Universities. (You can keep tabs on Twitter - #CREATE).
In turn, these shape the many areas of law under review, nationally, internationally and globally. Adjustments to exceptions to copyright law; the role of intermediaries in enforcing the law (e.g. via the Digital Economy Act) and indeed for their own roles and legal responsibilities as platforms v. content distributors; revisions to data protection law to reflect the flows across national boundaries into and out of the ‘Cloud’.
And often it's more a case of fundamental re-think. For instance, As Dominic Grieve commented at a recent lecture, the tendency of Jurors to use the Web can change the evidence on which they base their decisions.
These complex interactions become even more complex because, in the words of the Bard, “one man in his time plays many parts’. You and I are simultaneously citizens, consumers, authors, creators and publishers. Intermediaries can be hosts for other people’s content but can also offer their own services.
When we come to legal and regulatory policy, the real debate has moved beyond a binary ‘good’ v. ‘bad’, ‘copyright maximalists’ v. ‘copyright minimalists’. The challenge now is to create the right legal and policy framework which reflects a world of ‘complex interactions’ in which real innovation is happening right across the entertainment, information and e-commerce indusries. We must encourage and sustain this. This really matters because the creative and cultural industries are one of the ways that the UK economy can really grow and create jobs and opportunities for young people.
Throughout 2013, I will be looking at some of these key policy changes, such as the envisaged changes to UK copyright law and, at a European level, Data Protection law. I will also examine the increasingly varied and complex world of platforms, from the ‘digital gorillas’ to innovative new platforms like ‘Movellas’. In order to see the wood for the trees in forthcoming legal and regulatory changes and developments, in the next few posts I’m going to look in a bit more detail at ‘the digital shift’ and the overriding themes which reflect these complex interactions.