Copyright, an IP right often ignored by consumers, seems to have stimulated a lot of recent debate.
For those whose businesses revolve around the generation of creative and artistic works, the ease of distribution of content in the digital world is creating a divide – those who believe that copyright law in its current form no longer serves society – and those who believe that it is still fit for purpose.
In the UK, the IPO describes the area of copyright as “complex and granular, sitting as it does within a mesh of laws and precedents. It says that “Definitions will always be tinged with uncertainty and overlap, and can end up in court for final judgements”. In its recent publication “Rights and Wrongs.Is copyright licensing fit for purpose for the digital age?“, UKIPO examines the feasibility of a Digital Copyright Exchange, an idea introduced in the Hargreaves Review and which follows earlier projects with the Creative Industries. That is to make it easier for commercial entities to license copyright, and therefore make it more reasonable to expect users of that copyright to take a licence.
The IPO has identified significant problems in relation to copyright licensing in a range of market segments and industry sectors: Libraries, archives and museums, educational institutions, the audiovisual industry (feature films and television), the publishing industry (newspapers, magazines, books and journals), the music industry, the images industry (still pictures, photo libraries, artworks) – to name but a few.
They also identified an overarching cross-sector and cross-territory problem which, if resolved, they say will further improve copyright licensing for the mixed media and borderless world of the internet.
Those problems can be summarised as follows:
• Complexity of licensing processes
• Complexity of licensing organisations
• Repertoire imbalance between the digital and physical worlds
• The difficulty in finding out who owns what rights to what content in what country
• The difficulty in accurately paying to creators the fair share of revenues from uses and reuses of their copyright content
• The labour-intensiveness, expense and difficulty of licensing copyright for the high volume low value transactions that characterise the digital world
• The lack of common standards and of a common language for expressing, identifying and communicating rights information across the different creative sectors and across national borders
The IPO believes that making copyright licensing easier to use, less expensive, more accessible for licensees both large and small, for companies and for individuals, will encourage new digital services. As a result, there will be stronger political will to enforce copyright ever more vigorously across peer to peer file-sharing, websites, search engines, payment systems and advertisers.
The debate on “Copyright in a world where everything is digital” was the focus of this month’s free INTIPSA webinar. Joren de Wachter and Neil Wilkof gave excellent examples and illustrations for those who wish to understand the subject. (Click here to listen to the recording of IP Strategies for copyright owners in a world where everything is digital ). During the debate, 60% of delegates considered that copyright in its current form is no longer an adequate basis for regulating the rights associated with creative works. However, despite this drawback, a larger percentage (69%) did feel that it was possible to develop a profitable business model based on copyright content.
Joren’s contribution to INTIPSA’s activities on World IP Day, “When everything becomes software, how does that affect IP” also addresses the issue of copyright.
Coller IP’s view is that many companies, such as those in the Creative & Software Industries who have businesses built around copyright content such as software, music, video, may find themselves securing their business with other IP rights such as Trade Marks to protect the value built up in the brand, Trade Secrets, and Contract terms rather than using technology or copyright protection per se. Whatever happens to the legal framework, it will be important to get the IP Strategy right if commercial gains are to be achieved.
We live in a changing world………