Adopting a Stakeholder-centric approach to copyright consultation

Today, CREATe publishes ‘Improving Deliberation, Improving Copyright’, authored by Lee Edwards and Giles Moss. The Report can be found here, and the Toolkit which forms the companion piece, can be found here. This is highly innovative research with the potential to bring sustained change to practice. We are delighted to include the paper in the CREATe Working Paper series.

Traditionally, copyright consultations have taken place in a landscape characterised by uneven resources, knowledge and expertise among stakeholders. The method employed by the researchers was based on collaboration with copyright stakeholders, other media stakeholders, and members of the public. This has led to the development of a new approach to consultations that addresses some of the limitations of copyright consultations in practice and will be of use to consultation exercises of all kinds.

The project grew from an initial investigation that examined the ways in which copyright was understood and evaluated by industry, activist groups and users (Grant reference ESRC RES 062-23-3027). CREATe subsequently funded a project, enabling a deliberation exercise with a representative group of the general public at a weekend event designed to allow the discussion of the nature of copyright law, its implementation, and ways it might change. CREATe Working Paper Living With(in) Copyright Law was published in 2017.

For the current follow-on project, the researchers adopted a tripartite structure: stakeholder dialogues; stakeholder workshops with dialogue participants; and the production and presentation of the final recommendations to the Intellectual Property Office. The dialogues were individual discussions with 34 stakeholders and ten members of the public, to understand their experiences of consultations. These discussions then formed the basis of the stakeholder workshops, where 28 participants worked in small groups to answer three broad questions: who should participate in consultations; how they should participate; and why they should participate. The researchers adopted a deliberative approach to the discussions with participants, but they were not required to suggest deliberative ideas for improvement. The deliberative principles of inclusivity, equity and mutual respect guided the project, in terms of how researchers worked with participants and interacted with each other.

From the project, the researchers identified two purposes for conducting consultations. These are an epistemic purpose (to develop knowledge that will improve policy) and a democratic purpose (to enable stakeholders to contribute to policy and improve the accountability of policy decisions). They also concluded that participants demonstrated a need for four key principles in the consultation process. Consultations should be:

  1. Inclusive
  2. Well-informed
  3. Equitable
  4. Accountable

Adopting a stakeholder-centric view of consultations is an effective way of identifying whether the assumptions and beliefs of consultation leaders are actually the experience of stakeholders and/or whether stakeholders are actually aware of what is already being done. This examination of the consultation process has resulted in the development of a new, co-produced deliberative model. This work has shown the value of encouraging and enabling complex conversations in a contested space, and centering stakeholders. By making resources available for future consultations, this work can be applied in a variety of complex contexts outwith copyright, such as internet safety or platform regulation. Future deliberative research will also benefit from the work’s innovative methodological approach, a ‘meta-deliberation’ or ‘consultation about consultations’.

University of Glasgow Press Release

University-of-Glasgow-research-sets-out-new-approach-for-copyright-consultations


Acknowledgements

‘Improving Deliberation, Improving Copyright’ is an AHRC funded project (grant AH/S007075/1), following on from CREATe grant AH/K000179/1. The project was led by researchers at the LSE and University of Leeds, in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Office, Ofcom and CREATe (now in its role as lead of the Intellectual Property workstream of the AHRC Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre, grant AH/S001298/1).

Project website: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media-and-communications/research/research-projects/improving-deliberation-improving-copyright

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