Evidence quality in intellectual property research: A comparison with the medical sciences

By Steven J. Watson1, Piers Fleming2, Daniel J. Zizzo3

1 Department of Psychology and CREATe, Lancaster University, s.watson3@lancaster.ac.uk
2 School of Psychology and CREATe, University of East Anglia, p.fleming@uea.ac.uk
3 School of Economics and CREATe, University of East Anglia, daniel.zizzo@ncl.ac.uk

After the publication of our review exploring why people download copyrighted materials unlawfully and the impact of those downloads we were invited to contribute to this blog. This work was part of the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe) and one of the paper’s key contributions was to introduce a robust method for appraising evidence from the medical sciences. One of the common themes during the debate following the release of the paper was the difference in the types of evidence available in the medical sciences compared to the IP realm. This blog considers these issues with a focus upon the systematic review process.

Science, Evidence and Errors

The power of the scientific method is that it is self-correcting; we develop models of the world and then test these models empirically. However, the consequences of persisting with suboptimal models are greater in some fields than others, for example, in medical science an incorrect consensus can cost lives. A rigorous method was needed to describe the current body of evidence in a way that could challenge and correct widely held beliefs. Systematic review filled that need. Without systematic review human albumin (a blood product), which had been used in the treatment of blood loss and burns for over 50 years, would still be used today but we now know that it is not just ineffective, but dangerous1. This ability to overturn a practice that had been considered routine for half a century and literally save lives is why in medicine the systematic review is widely considered to be the highest quality of evidence available (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. The pyramid hierarchy of evidence in medicine, with the highest quality evidence for informing action at the top and the less reliable forms of evidence further down the pyramid.

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The song remains the same? – Pop, plagiarism and professional pride

By Dr Adam Behr, Senior Research Associate at the University of East Anglia’s School of Political, Social and International Studies

Jimmy Page with Robert Plant 2 - Led Zeppelin - 1977

Copyright infringement is back in the mainstream news with high-profile stars Katy Perry and Led Zeppelin both facing accusations of theft. I don’t propose to enter into a forensic examination of the merits of these claims or a scrying exercise regarding their potential success or failure. I bring them up because they point towards a couple of features of production practice that are starting to emerge from research on the CREATe project, ‘Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture’ and about which I will say more after laying out some of the context.

Copyright is a key point of concern for the music and publishing industries and often focuses on piracy, particularly with regard to digital distribution (notwithstanding that legal streaming services such as Spotify are disrupting the market for legal downloads and look like they may have a similar effect on the illegal variety). But not all copyright infringements – or otherwise problematic instances of copying – revolve around the circulation of the finished product and this post concerns a type of infringement rooted earlier on in the production chain in terms of its legal visibility – during the process of creation, rather than the distribution where piracy tends to reside –namely ‘plagiarism’.

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Project Officer: Digitising the Edwin Morgan Scrapbooks

An opportunity for a Project Officer has arisen within the Library at the University of Glasgow on a CREATe project.

The role is to undertake a rights clearance simulation on selected extracts from the Edwin Morgan scrapbooks for the RCUK-funded project: Copyright and Diligent Search: Digitising the Edwin Morgan Scrapbooks, locating original rights-holders, and negotiating permission to make available their work as part of the digitisation process.

Fuller details (job description, salary, organization chart, how to apply, etc.) are here (Vacancy reference: 008884)

Closing date 10 August 2014.

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CopyrightUser.org Updated to Reflect Changes in UK Copyright Law

Post by Bartolomeo Meletti, Lead Producer of CopyrightUser.org [a co-production between CREATe and Bournemouth University]

CopyrightUser.orgCopyrightuser.org has been updated in light of the changes to UK copyright law made on 1 June 2014. Learning from the difficulties encountered by other initiatives in the field of copyright education, the Copyright User project aims at keeping up with the evolving copyright landscape.

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“Act early and strategically” — highlights from CREATe co-sponsored event for Design industry practitioners.

Up Your IP Seminar - St. Andrews

Credit: Colin Tennant Photography

Act early and strategically — know the value of your Intellectual Property (IP), and the best way to protect it for your advantage.

These were among the pearls of wisdom shared at Up Your IP, a seminar for Design industry practitioners recently in Edinburgh. Organised by ICC and Creative Scotland and co-sponsored by CREATe, the day was the first of a series that aims to improve awareness and action on IP for Creative Industry enterprises. The second event, on September 11 2014, will focus on IP for Theatre organisations, and a third event, on September 25, will address IP for Digital Creatives. In November, the partners will release a suite of guidebooks addressing IP in Scotland’s Creative Industries (for details of the upcoming events and guidebooks, please contact coca@st-andrews.ac.uk)

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Lucas Lixinski’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage in International Law”: A Book Review

The Kelvingrove Review has published a book review of Lucas Lixinski’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage in International Law” in Issue 13, reviewed by CREATe Postgraduate Researcher Megan Rae Blakely.

Intangible Cultural Heritage in International Law by Lucas Lixinski tackles an emerging and highly relevant area of the law, and Lixinski approaches the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in a highly engaging and analytical manner. ICH, broadly speaking, consists of living cultural practices passed from generation to generation, such as song, dance, traditional craftsmanship and other rituals. Due to the organic and perpetually evolving nature of ICH, legal and definitional challenges at all levels abound prove especially difficult to form legal protections while still allowing for living heritage to thrive.

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New research examines IP status of user-generated contributions to TV production

Audiences have long been able to 'play along at home', but the Internet adds new complexity to interactive TV.

Audiences have long been able to ‘play along at home’, but the Internet adds new complexity to interactive TV.

An article published this week in the Journal of Media Business Studies by authors Todd Green and CREATe research fellow Kris Erickson asks, ‘what happens when user contributions are solicited and used to produce interactive TV?’

The question is a thorny one for a number of reasons, not least because cultural and organisational conditions under which TV is made are often distant from professional legal conceptions of copyright. The authors argue that television production teams operate with at least four sometimes contradictory models of intellectual property in mind: legal, entrepreneurial, financial, and communitarian.

Important copyright considerations abound. User contributions are most often solicited via third-party platforms such as facebook and twitter, which are governed by terms of service agreements. Further, do user contributions meet the threshold of originality required to attract copyright protection? Sometimes input can be as short as an SMS vote, a ‘like’, or a 140-character comment. Other times user contributions can constitute entire plot ideas.

Citing work in interactivity and participatory culture, the authors suggest that TV producers must strike a fine balance when conceiving interactive TV programmes. Adopting an overly restrictive position on copyright ownership may hamper efforts to make audiences feel involved in the co-production of a project. On the other hand, communitarian approaches may lack the means to fully account for and protect the commercial value of intellectual property.

A pre-publication version of the article may be accessed here.


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Copyright liabilities loom for cloud providers in wake of Aereo judgement

News piece by Dr Monica Horten, Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science

A judgement handed down in the US Supreme Court today has underpinned the claim of a group of broadcast companies that royalties were due from a cloud-based service relaying copyrighted content. The ruling also raises a looming threat of new liabilities for the nascent cloud computing industry.

The case of ABC Inc et al vs Aereo Inc, concerned whether or not a cloud service transmitting broadcast television to computer users over the Internet infringes copyright law. In brief, the Supreme Court ruling means that it does, but it is in the detail of the ruling that the cloud liability is implied.

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CREATe Researchers present at BILETA 2014

CREATe’s Andrew Black and Judith Rauhofer reflect upon their trip to the 2014 BILETA conference.

The UEA campus certainly had lots of bunnies! Image made available under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by PGBrown1987

The UEA campus certainly had lots of bunnies!
Image made available under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by PGBrown1987

This year’s BILETA conference took place at the beautiful (and bunny filled) UEA campus in sunny Norwich and saw a memorable three days of presentations by a fantastic array of speakers. The setting for the conference was the newly refurbished UEA law school building, opened after renovations just three weeks before our appearance in mid-April. In that regard a huge ‘well done’ has to go out to the conference organiser Dr Karen Mc Cullagh: arranging a conference at a venue that doesn’t even exist yet must have been a daunting challenge!

There was an impressive CREATe turnout at the event, including (alongside this post’s authors Andrew Black and Judith Rauhofer), Lillian Edwards, Daithi Mac Sithigh, Burkhard Schafer, Victoria Stobo, Edina Harbinja, Tom Phillips and Christian Geib. It was invigorating to see so much CREATe engagement in Bileta over the three days and to witness the various project outcomes being shared with a highly qualified audience.

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Understanding Approaches towards New Technologies in the Cultural Sector

Post by Amber Geurts (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), summarizing her presentation at CREATe Researchers Conference & Technology Capacity Building Event

amber guertsWithin existing research, there is a lack of understanding concerning the way creative, or cultural organizations, approach new technologies – even though technological developments have changed, facilitated and threatened the cultural sector enormously over the last several years. On the one hand, utopian approaches to new technologies (Castells, 2002) stress how these technologies have enabled cultural organizations to inform, educate and engage a wider and more diverse public (Cunliffe, Kritou & Tudhope, 2001), or created opportunities for cultural organizations to reduce costs of production and distribution (Cameron, 2011). On the other hand, dystopian views contrast these expectations by emphasizing how traditional value measures and working methods in the cultural sector become increasingly challenged (Peacock, 2008; Leyshon et al., 2005).

New technologies therefore provide opportunities to strengthen the position and possibilities of cultural organizations, but also threaten the cultural sector simultaneously. Previous research reveals a similar focus on the winners and losers of technological change. For example, most socio-cultural studies indicate how new technologies might create a so-called “digital divide” (Norris, 2001) between prominent actors or cultural organizations who are able to access, use and implement new media applications and those who aren’t. Similarly, most innovation management studies make the Schumpeterian (1942) assumption that, in the wake of discontinuous technological change, it are incumbent firms who increasingly struggle or exit the sector, while new entrants rise to market dominance (Bergek et al., 2013).

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