Creative industries and their business models have been at the centre of CREATe’s work from the very beginning. We have been investigating and gathering the evidence on how creative economy works and how copyright law addresses those workings, presenting our findings in online resources big (Copyright Evidence Wiki) and small (Reversion Rights Page). But who makes the creative economy work? Who feeds their labour into the market? That would be creators. Thus, while proudly continuing CREATe’s research on law and creativity, we would like to bring it into the new era under the second of our new research themes: Dealing with Creators.
As the title indicates, our focus will be shifting from the creative industries to the people who make them and the rules (deals) around them. This shift comes in recognition of the unprecedented levels of regulatory and political scrutiny placed on the creator: the largest withdrawal of creative labour in the history of Hollywood; the prospect of job displacement through generative AI; increasingly opaque revenue sharing arrangements with key gatekeepers to cultural markets – and the list goes on.
With the creator seemingly in crisis, this theme asks – does the law have a role in helping or hindering them? Herein lies the other component of this theme – the Deal – which reflects the (ironic) reality that law has traditionally been absent in this realm. For most creators, contracts are instead king, setting the guiding principles for working conditions, professional careers, and the distribution of their work. As researchers, contract-as-king presents a methodological (if not also moral) frustration – how do we study this hugely important, but largely invisible world of rules, being signed, sealed, and delivered behind closed doors? How do we know whether any of the benefits of (albeit limited) creator-centric legislation is filtering through to its intended recipients?
These questions are the driving forces and challenges behind Dealing with Creators – to make transparent the lived experience of the creator and their relationship with the law. In doing so, this theme will continue the existing work on creators’ contracts and earnings, generating empirical evidence on the professional lives of authors, performers, artists and more. The theme will also continue to track the implementation and effectiveness of new creator-centric legislative provisions, including Chapter 3 of the CDSM Directive. Both of these longstanding projects will combine with an aim to empower creators by making their realities transparent and accessible through the creation of new digital resources and knowledge exchange events.
This theme will also champion a holistic approach to defining the ‘creator’, including both traditional and contemporary forms of creativity. A key strand of the theme’s research will involve unearthing the ‘unlikely’ creators of our world – the employees, the transactional creators, and ‘the creators who don’t think of themselves as creators’. Despite the – theoretical and perhaps legal – distinction between them, this approach also embraces ‘content’ creators of user-generated content, fan works, remixes, and more. We will be organising creator-lawyer ‘meet and greets’ as well as reviving our Morning Coffee sessions, encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to studying creativity and the law.
The theme brings together members of CREATe who share a collective interest in studying creators from the perspectives of copyright, cultural policy and information technology: Ula Furgał (Lecturer in Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law); Amy Thomas (Lecturer in Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law); Arthur Ehlinger (Research and Knowledge Exchange Officer); Aline Iramina (Lecturer in Intellectual Property law); Stefan Luca (Postdoctoral Researcher in Platform Regulation).
Stay tuned for imminent updates on this research theme, with new outputs and events scheduled for throughout 2024. Any of the theme members will be happy to hear from interested scholars, policy makers, or creators who are interested in the research.