After more than a decade in existence, 2024 will be a year of transformation for CREATe. When CREATe was established as the RCUK (Research Councils UK) Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy in 2012, its purpose was to supply urgently-needed evidence on the regulation of the creative industries at a time when copyright was seen as lagging behind needs of creators and users in an era of digital, participatory media. CREATe has been successful in this aim: it has made vital contributions to evidence-based policy in copyright industries and regulation, has created valuable resources of evidence for research, and supported creative industries practitioners via informative and accessible guidance on copyright law and creative production.
CREATe has always explored the intersections between different legal domains, regulation, social sciences and arts. Now the situation is even more complex. Partly due to the emergence and continued dominance of large platforms, there is recognition that copyright as a regulatory instrument alone is not sufficient to address challenges which emerge across domains of competition, contracts, innovation, privacy, and freedom of expression. Often all of these domains will be implicated in a single item of content, or a single moderation or commercial decision taken by a platform. The increasing adoption of new technologies such as generative AI, augmented reality, and Internet of Things devices suggest even more regulatory complexity and interconnection.
Supported by a strategic AHRC infrastructure award (£1 million, 2024-2028), CREATe will be broadening its approach to the regulation of creativity, technology and markets (see graphic below). This new structure emerges from recognition of the interconnected nature of the creative economy, the confluence of overlapping regulatory domains in individual products and services, and a need to be responsive to unpredictable technological change. CREATe’s ambition continues to be to supply UK policy making with rigorous and transparent research, particularly on regulatory questions where existing evidence is scarce. Reflecting this new expanded portfolio, CREATe has appointed two new Deputy Directors: Magali Eben, Senior Lecturer in Competition Law, and Kristofer Erickson, Professor of Social Data Science. They will be joining Director Martin Kretschmer.
Why specifically creativity, technology, and markets?
Magali Eben and Kris Erickson explain:
Creativity continues to be a major focus for CREATe, but we will move beyond copyright’s role as incentive to consider issues such as the co-productive role of users, the cultural heritage ecosystem and its spill-overs, and new types of creative expression such as generative AI. We will continue to publish our longitudinal survey of artists’ earnings, which explores the real conditions of creative work across different sectors. Our interest in markets has developed over the past several years, with the appointment of colleagues from competition law. We have identified synergistic relationships between copyright and competition, particularly when it comes to the regulation of content platforms with significant market power, and other forms of market concentration that impact creative production. Our focus on markets also extends to trade marks, brands, and contracts, where we can contribute new empirical understanding. Finally, our new structure includes a focus on the regulation of technology, and the interplay between technological innovation, law, policy and user communities. New strategic appointments in CREATe and a planned LLM in Technology law and regulation reflect this added new focus.
Within the overall structure of creativity, technology and markets, there are 7 new research themes reflecting the research activity that CREATe will undertake over the next 5 years. These are: Decentralisation, automation and platforms, Access to knowledge, Dealing with Creators, Political economy of regulation, The law of innovation, Legal history and cultural memory, and Technology and humanism. Over the next two months, the leads for each theme will be sharing more detail about their ideas, their plans, and their research objectives, so please stay tuned to learn more.
The CREATe relaunch will officially take place on 11 March. We will be sharing information about this event soon. If you want to come to Glasgow to talk to us, this will be an excellent opportunity to do so! In the meantime, there are lots of ways to get involved with the CREATe community. You can explore our website (which will be undergoing some changes in the months ahead), scope out our current projects, and get in touch with us.