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Equal access: harmonising copyright exceptions for those with disabilities

By Blog

Post by Laurence Diver, CREATe Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh

Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (“the Copyright Directive”) has provided European member states with “the option of providing for certain exceptions or limitations for cases such as […] for use by people with disabilities…” (Recital 34). Making copyright exceptions for disabilities merely optional raises the possibility that member states will opt not to implement them, thus potentially creating free movement barriers for EU citizens with disabilities. More research is required to assess what the variances in the exceptions enacted by member states are and whether these in fact prejudice the rights and interests of EU citizens with disabilities.

Read More launch during AHRC Creative Economy Showcase: Press Release and Media

By Media Briefings, News

To copy or not to copy, that is the question

When do you know whether copying something is actually theft?

With the way in which TV, movies and music are produced, distributed and consumed changed forever, questions of copyright have never been more relevant. is a new website that seeks to answer some of these thorny questions. The new website will direct those in the music, film, literature, visual arts and technology industries through the complications of copyright law. The portal was officially launched today in London at the King’s Place conference centre during the AHRC Creative Economy Showcase, a day long event targeting policy-makers, business leaders in the creative industries, knowledge exchange practitioners, and, research directors.

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“Adopt fair use” – The Australian Law Reform Commission tells the Australian government!

By Blog

Post By Ms. Megan Rae Blakely (PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow) and
Dr Sukhpreet Singh (R&D Manager, CREATe)

Fair Use Logo by Odinn 2007 CC-BY-SA

Fair Use Logo by Odinn 2007 CC-BY-SA

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recently published a report that engages with the suitability of ‘fair use’ copyright exceptions in Australian law. Based upon more than 18 months of work and over 1,000 submissions and consultations with stakeholders, the report strongly recommends a more flexible and adaptive copyright framework for Australia. Any copyright flexibility legislation must still comply with the minimum rights laid out in the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention provides a three-step test to determine if a statutory reform is compliant; all member states must confine their limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to 1) certain special cases which 2) do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and 3) do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the right holder.

While still adhering to these minimum Berne Convention rights, the ALRC report does justice to its commissioning organization, i.e., a law ‘reform’ commission by recommending introduction of ‘fair use’ principles in Australian copyright law, so that new technological developments and commercial practices in the digital world do not have to seek constant recourse to legislative change, an instrument that moves at a glacial pace around the world. The report authors reckon that ‘fair use’ will promote innovation and enable a technologically sound market-based response to market demands and presumably help boost Australia’s global competitiveness.

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Getting Paid for Giving Away Art for Free: the Case of Webcomics

By Blog

Post by Liz Dowthwaite (Doctoral Researcher at CREATe & Horizon, University of Nottingham)


Figure 1 Internet culture as portrayed by the webcomic ‘Nedroid’ on Tumblr [2]

Webcomics are comics that an independent creator posts on the Internet for free [3]. There are thousands on the Internet at any one time. Some artists are able to support themselves full-time through their comics, and many make at least some form of income. The importance of the relationship between creators and readers in comics has been recognized and talked about for many years [6], with webcomics able to embrace Web 2.0 technologies for this purpose: “One of the greatest things about Webcomics is the immediacy, frequency and intensity of your interactions with readers. You can talk to them, and they can talk back” (p.104) [4]. Artists develop meaningful relationships with readers over time, forming extremely dedicated communities that are willing to spend time and money supporting them [1,4,5,7,8,9]. Alongside these critical relationships, artists must also manage the use of their work online, ensuring that their rights are maintained. We all know that illegal hosting of content is a massive problem on the internet, and whilst most creators accept that this is somewhat inevitable, webcomics communities have been known to take to the social networks in great numbers to protest when work is copied or re-posted without attribution. My PhD is concerned with how creators use social media sites to build these communities in order to support themselves, both in terms of their rights and in the sense of making money, and my research so far shows that they do make extensive use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. The example of such a niche group as ‘webcomics’, who have been extremely successful and are only going from strength to strength, may be used to aid other groups and individuals who more and more are turning to the Internet to help them succeed in the creative industries.

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