On the morning of Friday 5th December CREATe and around sixty delegates convened at the Connected Digital Economy Catapult‘s breathtaking new Central London base. The purpose was to reflect on the outcomes and lessons of ‘Valuing the Public Domain’, a research and knowledge exchange project led by Professor Martin Kretschmer and Dr. Kris Erickson of CREATe. The study was undertaken with support of the UK Intellectual Property Office and co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The purpose of the project was to map the size of the public domain and frequency of its use; analyse the role of public domain works in value creation for UK firms; and assist UK media companies to identify business models that benefit from the public domain. The study included analysis of over 2500 media projects on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, usage statistics of photographs in over 1700 biographical pages on Wikipedia and interviews with UK media businesses and independent creators.
This half-day event aimed to bring together project researchers and transmedia businesses to explore and discuss the results of the study. What does the availability and use of the rich tradition of public domain materials in this country mean for UK creative industries? How can SMEs and other businesses leverage the public domain effectively to generate value? What are the emerging market trends and practices that will hinder or enable access to public domain materials in the future?
In the opening session the project team Martin Kretschmer, Kris Erickson, Dinusha Mendis and Fabian Homberg offered details of the project in a series of presentations. New empirical evidence illustrating update, use and monetisation rate in digital media markets by different types of creators and entrepreneurs was showcased and summarised.
Following this a series of technical demonstrations were offered of creative projects that utilise public domain materials. These included a A 3D world based on the novels of Jane Austen, presented by Annabel Smyth, Community Manager at 3 Turn Productions; a large-scale crowd-sourced repository of public domain digital images called the Mechanical Curator, presented by Ben O’Steen from the British Library; and a playable documentary based on the mystery of Jack the Ripper introduced by Tomas Rawlings, Production Director at Auroch Digital.
In the final round of talks, a panel session comprising the members of the project team and Nicola Searle of the Intellectual Property Office, Ben White of the British Library and Jonathan Cardy from the Wikimedia Foundation invited and prompted responses and case examples of PD uptake and commercialisation.
The workshop’s final session was interactive, with attendees invited to suggest their own pitches for creative use of public domain materials. Examples that emerged included an HG Wells narrative mash-up, an aggregated repository of public domain materials with relevance to the African continent and a face detection system with applications in family history research.