Bartolomeo Meletti – Welcome & CopyrightUser.org

Bartolomeo Meletti (CREATe / BFI)

Good morning everyone, welcome to the British Film Institute. My name is Bartolomeo Meletti and I work as Copyright Education Creative Director at the BFI, where I am on secondment from CREATe, the UK Copyright Centre based at the University of Glasgow. During today’s event – called Copyright & Creative Reuse – we will be exploring how UK copyright law shapes and regulates the preservation, digitisation, access to and creative reuse of film. And we are very privileged to have a great line up of leading practitioners and copyright experts to help us address these challenging topics.

To give you a bit of context: today’s event is part of a larger project – called Unlocking co-creative possibilities – led by CREATe in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast and various industry partners such as the BFI, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council follow-on funding scheme. One of the main objectives of the project is to help creators and cultural heritage practitioners understand the creative and cultural opportunities offered by copyright law so that they can use those opportunities to generate value from co-creative practices. We try to do this mainly through two research-based copyright education initiatives: CopyrightUser.org, and in particular the resource The Game is On!, a series of short animated films accompanied by explanatory texts aimed at helping filmmakers and other creators understand and discuss copyright. And the Copyright Cortex, an online resource developed to provide libraries, archives, museums and other memory institutions with information and expert commentary on how copyright law affects the creation and management of digital cultural heritage.

We are also trying to capture the impact of these initiatives, so if you haven’t already, please complete the survey we sent you via the Eventbrite email. This morning you should have received another email with the link to the survey, and you can connect to the wifi called bfi_wifi using the password bfi_wifi. The wifi doesn’t work very well unfortunately, so if you have any issues with the online survey, there are also some printed versions here for you to pick up and complete.

Before leaving the floor to the first panel, I wanted to very briefly introduce the two resources I just mentioned: Copyright User and the Copyright Cortex. This is CopyrightUser.org, which is developed by CREATe in collaboration with the CIPPM Centre at Bournemouth University and other partners, and is an independent online resource intended to make UK copyright law accessible to everyone. The site offers authoritative and accessible guidance produced by leading copyright experts as well as multimedia educational resources such as The Game is On!, which we will screen this afternoon. Today we are also publishing a new resource: sector-specific copyright guidance for museums, galleries and other cultural heritage organisations, produced by Naomi Korn, which you can find in the Intermediaries section under the Educate category.

And this is the Copyright Cortex, an online resource dedicated to copyright and digital cultural heritage developed by a team led by Prof Ronan Deazley. Ronan Deazley was supposed to chair this afternoon’s session on creative reuse but unfortunately he couldn’t make it because he’s unwell and he asked me to pass on his apologies.  But we are very lucky to have Professor Maurizio Borghi, Director of the CIPPM Centre in Bournemouth who will be chairing this afternoon’s session, and I would like to thank him warmly for his last minute availability.

The Copyright Cortex has two main features: first, it’s a catalogue. It brings together a wide range of material relating to copyright and digital cultural heritage, including scholarly publications, practical guidance, policy documentation, and real world case studies.

Second, accompanying the catalogue, is an open access text for cultural heritage practitioners: Copyright and Digital Cultural Heritage (or Copyright 101), which is freely available at copyrightcortex.org.

What are we trying to achieve through initiatives such as Copyright User, the Copyright Cortex, and today’s event? The problem we are trying to address is that, as research indicates, cultural heritage practitioners, educators and creators find copyright law complicated, confusing and intimidating, and this often prevents them from fully exploiting all the creative, cultural and educational opportunities offered by the law. You can’t really blame them because copyright law is actually quite complicated, confusing and intimidating. The practical implementation of the law often turns on interpreting concepts that are inherently ambiguous and situational, concepts such as fairness, sufficiency, substantiality and diligence. Whereas people working in education and in creative and cultural sectors want black or white answers, for example they want to know how many seconds or minutes they can use from a film without infringing copyright. But the reality is that in copyright law there are almost no black or white answers; the answer to copyright questions is hardly ever ‘yes’ or ‘no’, the answer is often ‘it depends’. The truth is: decisions around digitisation, access and use of copyright works always involve a certain level of uncertainty and risk.

This is where I think that copyright education initiatives such as Copyright User and Copyright Cortex can play a crucial role in facilitating digitisation, access and lawful reuse of copyright works. A role that is at least threefold:

First, copyright education can help people make informed decisions. That is: it can help you accept the uncertainty involved in most decision around copyright issues, and to manage the risk involved in these decisions in an informed way.

Second, copyright education, when combined with deliberative exercises, enables the creative and cultural sectors to meaningfully participate in policy debates and advocate the policy interventions that are needed to encourage innovation and economic growth.

Third and foremost, effective copyright education can facilitate the establishment of best practices within the creative and cultural sectors and the bottom-up definition of fundamental concepts underpinning the access to and creative reuse of cultural heritage, such as fairness, diligence, substantiality, and so on, which I think can be a very powerful thing.

And I hope today’s event will be a step forward in this direction, that is: hopefully it will help us all better understand the current copyright regime and its creative possibilities, and will facilitate a constructive dialogue between the people who preserve and provide access to existing films, and those who wish to reuse films in the creation of new work.

Finally, this is the programme of the day, which you also have in your delegate packs. If you want to tweet, please do and use the hashtag #creatcin. I will now leave the floor to Claudy Op den Kamp from the CIPPM Centre at Bournemouth University who will be chairing the session on preservation, digitisation and access, and whom I would also like to thank for all her hard work in organising this event. Thank you.