Gating the Gatekeepers: The responsibilities of platforms for their content is changing, in the UK, in the EU and globally

December 15th, 2020 will be remembered as a momentous day in the relationship between big tech and society. You may think this is because the UK government announced long awaited measures to regulate online harms – measures that fundamentally change how platforms will have to police illegal and harmful content. The Internet platforms’ liability shield, also known as ‘safe harbour’, is being lifted.

In truth, December 15th is more likely to be remembered for the publication by the European Commission of legislation that aims to do the same, and much more: the Digital Markets Act (defining online gatekeepers with special behavioural obligations, in particular relating to access to data by other business users), and The Digital Services Act (addressing the liability of all online intermediaries, and reforming takedown and recommender systems).

But let’s start with the UK government’s response to the Online Harms white paper, and (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Oliver Dowden’s statement in the House of Commons.

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IP Reading Group: Thoughts on Theory

In our latest IP Reading Group discussions, CREATe PGRs shared their thoughts on their chosen theoretical frameworks, ranging from classic theorists such as Jeremy Bentham, to the application of Buddhist principles in rethinking privacy law. This blog provides a selection of recommended readings on theory and how they can be applied to the study of topical issues in IP.

Janet Burgess

Thaler, R. H. and Sunstein, C. R. (2008) Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. Penguin.

My research investigates how amateur musicians find out about, perceive and apply copyright law, and in doing so it considers factors affecting compliance.  A number of theories relating to decision-making have been propounded, primarily in the field of economics, from Jeremy Bentham who suggested that people made decisions based on overall ‘utility’, determined by reduced suffering or increased pleasure, leading to the notion of an ‘economic man’ or ‘homo economicus’, and to Rational Choice theory, based on ‘utility maximisation’ where available options and any limiting factors are assessed to identify the option which gives the greatest benefits.  These theories are, however, criticised for over-ambitiously expecting people to behave consistently and to be able to process large amounts of information in order to reach the optimal outcome, leading to alternatives such as Herbert Simon’s concept of ‘satisficing’ where an individual might not assess all the options but choose one which is good enough.  Similarly, Kahneman and Tversky’s theory of Bounded Rationality recognises that, when faced with too much information or lack of time, people make decisions based on ‘heuristics and biases’, while their Prospect Theory recognises that decisions can be influenced by the context in which they are presented. Continue reading

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OPEN LETTER: Revocation – How authors and performers can reclaim their copyrights

A group of leading international academics has published an open letter concerning the right of revocation. This new right, regulating copyright contracts, is provided for in article 22 of the recent EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

Click on the image to download

The letter addressed to the European Commission and the relevant national authorities of EU Member States, identifies the revocation right as “an historic opportunity to achieve better copyright outcomes for creators”, and calls upon governments to explicitly address the right in their consultations about implementing the Copyright Directive.

The letter builds on a collaborative research project between CREATe and the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA), University of Melbourne, with the reCreating Europe consortium. The project maps all provisions allowing authors and performers to reclaim their rights. Such laws are already a part of national laws of many EU Member States in some form. What are the lessons that can be carried forward into article 22’s implementation process?

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Why regulating the public sphere matters more than ever

This post first appeared on the blog of the AHRC Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre (PEC) – this is an updated version which also includes a Reading List.

The public sphere – our common communicative space – is central to enabling contemporary political discussion. We are presently witnessing the melt-down of one set of assumptions and institutions that have characterised the public sphere and their gradual replacement with another. With the move into the age of Internet-dominated ‘hybrid’ media and in a globally competitive context, we are living in an unstable ‘post-public sphere’.

That is the argument of PEC Co-Investigator Professor Philip Schlesinger (CREATe and CCPR Centres, University of Glasgow) in his recent essay, ‘After the post-public sphere’. The essay is published in the journal Media, Culture and Society.

Schlesinger argues that in capitalist democracies we can only guess at how the post-public sphere will develop in the future. In previous work on the public sphere he explored the possibility of a supranational communicative space for deliberation in the European Union, and explored the associated questions about national identity and state sovereignty. In 2020, while the key issues remain the same, the political landscape is marked by intensifying geopolitical tensions, the deliberate fostering of irrationalism by political leaderships in a number of democracies, and increasingly unbridled xenophobia. Political developments have been fuelled by the proliferation of new communications technologies and are occurring against the background of a long-running economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Copyright Contracts and the Economics of Music Streaming: How can policy favour more equitable business models?

CREATe has submitted evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the ‘Economics of Music Streaming’.  

In recent years music streaming has become the pre-eminent means for the dissemination and consumption of recorded music. This has fundamentally altered the core revenue generating activity of the recording industry. It has changed from an industry principally engaged in the manufacture and sale of music products to an industry engaged in licensing access to music services. This shift has profound ramifications for primary creators, investors and consumers.  

Click on image above to access submission

The CREATe contribution to the Inquiry draws on empirical research conducted by CREATe researchers examining the music copyright industries and relevant research on IP in the wider creative industries as part of the AHRC Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre (PEC) at the University of Glasgow.  

The evidence presented focuses on one question posed in the call: How can policy favour more equitable business models?  

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Call for Proposals: SHARP Annual Conference 2021, with Copyright History Research Lab

SHARP’s 2021 annual conference (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing) will take place virtually from 26 – 30 July 2021, hosted by the University of Muenster, Germany. In addition to traditional panels with 20 minute papers, this year SHARP is introducing a mini-workshop format called “research labs”, consisting of intensive discussion of 3-4 pre-circulated papers. Of particular relevance to CREATe is a proposed research lab on copyright history, and early career researchers are encouraged.

Proposals for this lab are being coordinated by Will Slauter, and should be submitted directly to him. If you are currently working on an article, dissertation chapter, book chapter, or other writing on some aspect of the history of copyright, and would like to receive feedback in the research lab format, please send a title and abstract of the proposed paper, plus a biography to Will

Research on all time periods and countries is welcome but some preference will be given to submissions that relate in some way to the overall conference theme, Moving texts: from discovery to delivery. Submissions representing different disciplinary perspectives, methodologies, and stages of career are actively encouraged. 

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CREATe Public Lecture on YouTube: ‘Reflecting on the Public Voice in Copyright Consultations’

On 25 November, CREATe held our first Public Lecture of the 2020-2021 term, which was also the first Public Lecture held entirely online. The central presentation by Lee Edwards and Giles Moss on their project, Improving Deliberation, Improving Copyright was complemented by the inclusion of three discussants, each with a distinct perspective on the experience of facilitating or participating in copyright consultations: Ian Hargreaves (author of the Hargreaves Review), Aline Iramina (CREATe PhD student on secondment from the Federal Government of Brazil), and Martin Senftleben (Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Institute for Information Law, IViR). CREATe Post-doctoral researcher Ula Furgal and Editor of the CDSM Imprementation resource page gave a short pre-talk on the implementation of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and presentation of the resource page.

Screenshot of Zoom webinar from the Public Lecture

We streamed the event via YouTube – it can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVuWX8NMtq4

We are delighted to be able to reach a worldwide audience with our events and will be running further online Public Lectures in the Spring Term, with details posted here as soon as dates are finalised.

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Just published: Copy This Book! What Data Tells Us about Copyright and the Public Good

CREATe Fellow and Law Professor at the University of Illinois, Paul Heald presents his new book, looking at the state of copyright in the twenty-first century

CREATe saw it first! 

Much of the data collected in Copy This Book!: What Data Tells Us about Copyright and the Public Good (Stanford University Press, 2020) was presented first in Glasgow. Some chapters, like the code-busting calculation of the value of public domain photos on Wikipedia, were directly supported by CREATe. But Glasgow hasn’t seen it all! Copy This Book! is filled with new anecdotes and amusing illustrations unfit for academic presentations – a Bill Bryson-inspired book about copyright.

The overall theme of the book can be seen in this fanciful graph, which depicts the relationship of copyright protection to creativity and price using imaginary—but illustrative– figures:

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CREATe Online Public Lecture ‘Reflecting on the Public Voice in Copyright Consultations’

We are delighted to open booking for our first Public Lecture of the 2020-2021 academic year. Although we are unable to hold the event in the University of Glasgow's beautiful Humanities Lecture Theatre as usual, we will be hosting it online. We hope this will allow a new and wider audience to access the lecture.

The talk before the lecture and contributions from the discussants will present a range of perspectives on copyright consultations, and attendees will be able to submit questions during the lecture for a Q&A session at the end. Or questions can be emailed to contact@create.ac.uk prior to the lecture.

This event has ended but you can watch it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVuWX8NMtq4

Public consultation event for the project

Improving Deliberation, Improving Copyright: Reflecting on the Public Voice in Copyright Consultations

Speakers: Lee Edwards and Giles Moss
Pre-talk: The Implementation of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Ula Furgal, editor of  https://www.create.ac.uk/cdsm-implementation-resource-page/)
Discussants: Ian Hargreaves ("Hargreaves Review"), Aline Iramina (on secondment from Federal Government of Brazil), Martin Senftleben (IViR), and Martin Kretschmer (chair)
Date: Wednesday 25 November 17:30-19:00 GMT

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IP Reading Group: Inspiring IP reading recommendations

With our large cohort of new PGRs, the latest discussions in our IP Reading Group focussed on the readings that have inspired our research, whether as a starting point for a new project, or as a continuing source of motivation throughout our thesis. This blog provides a summary of selected recommended inspiring readings from an array of different perspectives, from socio-legal methodologies, to cultural heritage studies, and of course – Lessig.

Janet Burgess

Cotterrell, R. (1984) The Sociology of Law: An Introduction. London: Butterworths.

Bingham, T. (2011) The Rule of Law. Penguin Books Ltd.

My research investigates how amateur musicians negotiate copyright law, and the two passages below were instrumental in clarifying the direction of my thoughts.

The first is by Roger Cotterrell, a distinguished academic and prolific commentator on socio-legal issues:

‘Suppose that a new piece of legislation comes into existence, created in the proper formal manner by an accepted law-making institution.  What happens?  […] Does the law somehow reach the world beyond this rarefied professional sphere?  If so, in what way?  With what effect?’ (Cotterrell, p1)

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