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d[E]u as we say, not as we d[E]u

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CREATe’s Founding Director Prof Ronan Deazley describes his attendance at the most recent meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights.

A large consortium of international and regional NGOs representing the cultural heritage sector attended the most recent meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR27). Drawn from Europe, Latin America, Australia, the United States, Canada and the UK, the consortium worked in concert to push for an international treaty to help libraries and archives deliver on their mission within a global, networked environment. I was in attendance in my capacity as Copyright Policy Adviser to the Scottish Council on Archives.

During the week-long meeting, NGO representatives spoke to a number of challenges facing the library and archive sector, both in plenary and at a bespoke lunchtime event organised by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) (for a number of the presentations given at that lunchtime event see here). The range of issues addressed included the problem of cross-border exchange and use of library and archive material, orphan and out-of-commerce works, data and text mining, and the extent to which the providers of digital content are increasingly relying on contract to override existing exceptions to copyright.

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Who’s afraid of feminist legal theory?

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Post by Sheona Mary Lockhart Burrow (PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow)

Image credit: Sheona Mary Lockhart Burrow

Themed refreshments were provided in the form of fairy cakes featuring Mary Wollstonecraft

The CREATe Studio reading group met again on Thursday 20th March. The topic of discussion was feminist theory in IP law. There is a small but growing literature on feminist theories of IP and the paper for discussion raised a number of interesting questions about how to carry out empirical research from the perspective of feminist legal theory.

Ronan Deazley voiced concerns about the difficulties of carrying out multidisciplinary research in this field without a proper understanding of both the relevant IP law and jurisdictional implications. Researchers engaging in this type of research need to familiarise themselves with both the relevant case law and statutes, as well as relevant critical and feminist legal theories. For example, without a proper grasp of how copyright law treats joint and multiple authors, it is difficult to properly understand how feminist theories about authorship may relate to copyright. Fortunately for those working within CREATe, access to legal specialists should not be a barrier.

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Equal access: harmonising copyright exceptions for those with disabilities

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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.

research-programme

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)

Nedroidcomics

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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