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.

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Creative Industries in a Knowledge Society

By About CREATe, Blog

It is now one year on since CREATe was launched to high expectations in the Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The digital revolution has moved copyright law to the regulatory centre of the creative industries. For investors, copyright has developed into a currency; users struggle with rights clearance (or ignore rights altogether); creators seek ever new ways to the market. It is a world of believers and non-believers. We hear wildly conflicting claims about the value of intangible assets, about the benefits of open and closed models of innovation to firms and society, about the potential of massive collaborative projects (wikinomics), about the impediments that existing copyright arrangements pose for new derivative markets (mass digitisation, translation services, social media), and about the link between unauthorised consumer activities and lost sales.


CREATe’s Network Graphic (click to view)

It is a particular challenge to establish a research centre in such a contested environment. The more urgent an independent approach becomes, the harder it is to achieve. Where myths and anecdotes rule, may transparency help? At CREATe, we are taking great care to expose our methodological approach and research designs to early scrutiny by academics, as well as industry and policy users of research. We document our major events scrupulously (we have welcomed close to 1,000 delegates to 20 events during our first year); we disseminate our research as working papers (15 as of March 2014); we have contributed to 9 consultations and policy interventions; we run digital resources on our website (visitors from 149 countries).

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

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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

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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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How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Focus Groups

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Image from Hugh Hancock’s new film ‘Death Knight Love Story’

One of the Hot Topics in the big media / tech crossover world recently has been data-driven storytelling. Wired breathlessly reported that Hollywood gurus have reverse-engineered a “formula for success” from audience data. Netflix has revealed its ability to data-mine genres that they already know their audience will like.

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Research Perspectives on the Public Domain: Transcript and Presentations

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On 11th October 2013, CREATe sponsored a seminar on Research Perspectives on the Public Domain, co-chaired by LKAS Research Fellow, Dr. Kris Erickson and CREATe Director Professor Martin Kretschmer. A full transcript of the event is now available as a CREATe working paper. Slide presentations from the event can be downloaded below.

The event included brief lectures by six interdisciplinary scholars, both domestic and international, who made presentations regarding their research findings and addressed challenges related to intellectual property regulations as well as any impact on the public domain. By bringing together diverse, interdisciplinary research areas, the seminar aimed to better situate the body of knowledge and value of the public domain in current research. The goals of the discussion included: identifying opportunities for scholars to benefit from cross-disciplinary perspectives, leveraging these perspectives to narrow upon current disciplinary blind spots in humanities research regarding intellectual property regulation, and bringing socially important questions to the forefront via this interdisciplinary approach.

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A digital rights bill means nothing without basic state compliance

By Blog

This article is a reproduction of a post originally featured at The Conversation.

By Emily Laidlaw, University of East Anglia

More than 500 high-profile names, including authors, musicians and five Nobel laureates, have signed a petition to the United Nations calling for a bill of digital rights to be developed in the wake of this year’s revelations about state surveillance.

The petition, signed by Margaret Atwood, Tom Stoppard and Günter Grass, among others, condemns the mass surveillance that has been revealed over the last few months, starting with the NSA secrets revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Titled A Stand for Democracy in a Digital Age, the petition says mass surveillance is an affront on human rights and treats every citizen as a suspect.

Down the road, it seems likely that Snowden’s revelations will be seen as the tipping point in the digital human rights debate.

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Creating a more open user and creator platform.

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Post by Mr. Dominic Price, Horizon Research Fellow, contributing to CREATe’s WP2A.

Online social networking is now in its second decade.  Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are enormously popular: Facebook claims over 1 billion active accounts and an average of 58 million unique messages (Tweets) pass through Twitter every day.  The recent explosion in smart-phone ownership with their associated ‘app’ cultures has also fuelled the growth of mobile social networking with the introduction of apps such as Whatsapp and Snapchat.  We can see from this that online social networking is a popular and central activity to a large proportion of the global population.  This is not surprising: we humans are social animals with a need to communicate with each other.  Social networking augments our existing ‘offline social networks’, allowing us to keep in touch with people over great distances, share our experiences and associated content (e.g., photos, videos, soundtracks and reports), organise our social lives and discover new social networks that were previously beyond our reach.

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Reforming Formats: Bringing together Research and Practice

By Blog, News

– Post by Mr. Andrew Black (LL.B Hons, LL.M Distinction), CREATe Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh

Television viewers around the world have either watched or are familiar with local versions of hit television shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Strictly Come Dancing, and, Idols. Formats such as these are widely traded in a global format market that is estimated to be worth billions a year. Individual formats have been reported to have been licensed for fees that can reach into seven figure sums. Such success, however, occurs despite the fact that the copyright law framework of most nations offers no direct legal protection for the formats themselves.

Berlin Photos from HIIG (9)Against this backdrop I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop held in Berlin which aimed to bring together research and practice on this topic. The workshop, organized in Berlin jointly by CREATe and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), brought together leading academics and practitioners to explore the field over the course of two days. Speakers shared a mix of practical and academic perspectives on the changing production of formats, their protection, and the value of an international comparative approach to exploring both.

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‘Team Open’: Creative Commons finally finding its role?

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Post by Prof. Dr. Leonhard Dobusch, first published here.

Creative Commons licenses are essential to virtually all of the different “open movements”, which have emerged over the past two decades beyond open source software. In the realm of open education, open science and open access, Creative Commons licenses are the standard way to make content open to the wider public. Also in fields such as open data and open government Creative Commons licenses are widely used to make it easier for third parties to re-use publicly funded content.

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Images, metadata, orphans

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Post by Prof. Derek McAuley

Coincidentally, five days after the publication of the Copyright Licensing Steering Group‘s report on the last 12 months of work on streamlining copyright, I was due to give a talk at a joint event of CREATe and the EPSRC funded Network of Excellence in Identity. The event “Identity Lost – electronic identity, digital orphan works and copyright law reform”, the talk “Digital tool chains; get your act together” – what joy to find the CLSG report, which lays down 10 key principles, formed the perfect frame to what I had planned to talk about! What should we do to avoid the on going creation of digital works that are orphans at birth?

Herewith the blogged version of the talk…

Metadata matters: encourage its use and preservation

I. By default create and preserve metadata

What is metadata in a digital image? Simply data attached to the digital image written by the camera when the image is created or afterwards as the image is processed by various tools. Nearly all cameras (including smartphones) capture information about the “camera” – lens, aperture, timing, resolution etc. – and the when and (especially with smartphones) the where. (More here.)

© Derek McAuley; not really sufficient…

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Data Where?

By Blog

Introduction by Lilian Edwards

Below is a blog written originally on the personal website of Prof Derek McAuley, head of the Horizon Digital Economy Hub and Doctoral Training Centre and lead for Nottingham as partner in CREATe. I have added a short new introduction to put into context why the work outlined below is an integral and vital part of the CREATe work programme.
Horizon is CREATe’s major partner looking at the creative industries’ problems from the viewpoint of technology and computing science. Specifically, Horizon took on the Herculean job of considering a number of interlocked problems. First, the Internet is obviously the source of, and platform for, much of the new creative and innovative activity in modern society. It clearly and brutally cannot be ignored by a Centre devoted to promoting the creative industries.

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