Research Blog Series: Human rights and the public interest

In the first post on the theme of Public Interest, Daithí Mac Síthigh presents research into freedom of expression and other human rights in the context of copyright, for our Research Blog Series.


Project: Human rights and the public interest

Investigators: Emily Laidlaw (East Anglia, now Calgary), Daithí Mac Síthigh (Edinburgh, then Newcastle, now QUB) and Yin Harn Lee (East Anglia and Cambridge, now Sheffield) (RA)

What did your research aim to do?
We aimed to identify what freedom of expression means in the context of copyright, and how this informs the understanding of other human rights in the context of copyright. A particular concern was how issues of speech, expression and communication have been treated over time, in different jurisdictions, and in relation to varying business models. We sought to identify what role freedom of expression should have in facilitating new business models, and whether there is a need for a public interest exception rooted in human rights principles.

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Research Blog Series: IP Infrastructure project

Robin Williams reports on University of Edinburgh research into the emergence of infrastructures for managing and potentially trading IP for cultural products, for the Research Blog Series.


Project: IP Infrastructure project

Investigators: PIs were Gian Marco Campagnolo and Robin Williams, University of Edinburgh. The researcher was Hung The Nguyen, University of Edinburgh

What did your research aim to do?
Over the last decade, the UK government has made a number of recommendations to re-evaluate its current Intellectual Property (IP) framework, the last of which led to the creation of a Copyright Hub. This was the major case in this study of the emergence of infrastructures for managing and potentially trading IP for cultural products. We examined the emergence of the Copyright Hub in relation to previous government initiatives. Our analysis offers novel insights into the complex dynamics shaping the outcome of government-industry partnerships.

This study has also advanced conceptual frameworks to address the temporal dimension of innovation drawing upon Garud and Gehman’s (2012) durational perspective and Abbott’s (2005) notion of ‘linked ecologies’. This moves the frame of analysis beyond its traditional focus on particular technology projects, with their typical linear narratives of whether or not planned and implicitly shared technical outcomes could be achieved.

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Research Blog Series: Living with(in) copyright law

How does the general public view copyright law? Lee Edwards presents research from the University of Leeds into this question, for the Research Blog Series.


Project: Living with(in) copyright law: What is it, how does it work, how could it change?

Investigators: Dr Lee Edwards, Dr Giles Moss, University of Leeds.

What did your research aim to do?
We aimed to investigate how members of the public would discuss the complex issue of copyright, when they were given relevant information and time and space for reflection through a structured deliberative process.

How did you do it?
88 members of the Leeds public came together over one weekend to discuss copyright law, its implementation, and ways it might change. Participants were provided with information about copyright from advocates and experts in the field and then asked to discuss key questions related to duration, exceptions, and enforcement.

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Research Blog Series: Exploring Unlawful File Sharing

Why do people pirate or stream media unlawfully? This question was investigated by Daniel Zizzo and Piers Fleming, and summarised for the Research Blog Series.


Projects: Sharing, Streaming, Stealing or Socialising? and A field Experiment of Detriments of Unlawful file sharing

Investigators: Dr Piers Fleming (UEA), Professor Daniel John Zizzo (Newcastle University)

What did your research aim to do?
Media companies are very concerned about piracy and encourage significant punishments for accessing, storing or distributing music, films etc. They estimate that it costs billions of dollars a year to the media industry. We wanted to find out why people pirate or stream media unlawfully. Is it the cost, the accessibility or something else?

How did you do it?
We carried out a review of all the existing literature followed by a survey, an experiment and a field experiment.

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Research Blog Series: The music industry and blockchain technologies

Jeremy Silver presents research from his working paper on some technology issues at the heart of blockchain and possible opportunities for the music industry, for the Research Blog Series.


Project: Blockchain or the Chaingang? Challenges, opportunities and hype: the music industry and blockchain technologies

Investigator: Dr Jeremy Silver (CEO of Digital Catapult and CREATe Industry fellow)

What did your research aim to do?
My working paper looked at how bitcoin and blockchain captured the public imagination, some of the technology issues at the heart of blockchain and a key dispute taking the bitcoin community in different directions with a bearing on possible music applications. I explored the kinds of initially superficial ways in which blockchain represented an attractive technology to the music industry and tried to capture some of the excitement and voices that have been generating so much deeper interest in the subject in relation to music.  Finally, I discussed how this might all unfold; what the opportunities and obstacles might be.

How did you do it?
I interviewed a wide range of individuals from technology visionaries, to heads of collective rights management organisations (collecting societies) to recording artists, to music managers and label chiefs.

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EPIP 2018: Paper Submission Deadline Approaching

The deadline is approaching for the submission of papers to the 13th Annual European Policy for Intellectual Property association (EPIP) Conference. It will be held in Berlin, Germany, September 5th to 7th, 2018 with a special attention on IP in a data-driven economy: New challenges for law, economics and social sciences.

Submission deadline: March 31st, 2018.
Notification of acceptance: May 10th, 2018.
Prizes will be awarded to the Best Full Paper submitted and to the Young Scholar’s Best Paper. Reduced fees will be available for PhD students.

To find out more, see the full call for papers.

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Research Blog Series: Death and Digital Assets

For the Research Blog Series, Lilian Edwards writes on the research exploring how ownership and control of cultural assets produced by users on social media sites are regulated by copyright and contract law.


Projects: User Generated Cultural Content (UGCC): Users as Creators, “Walled Gardens”, and the Preservation and Bequeathing of Novel Digital Cultural Assets,

Investigators: Lilian Edwards, University of Strathclyde, Edina Harbinja, (now University of Hertfordshire) with RA Laurence Diver, Edinburgh University (on Memento Mori)

What did your research aim to do?
We aimed to examine how ownership and control of cultural assets produced by users on social media sites – text, photos, videos etc – are regulated by copyright and contract law. We also looked at two other key sites where cultural or copyright assets are produced by users: email platforms and online gaming sites. We chose to do this by focusing on what happens to these assets on the death of the user as this is becoming a difficult social problem, invoking clashes between contract and succession law, and between heirs and friends. Ownership in particular is transferred on death so it is a valuable cusp point to study.

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Research Blog Series: Intermediaries

Morten Hviid presents research on the impact of digitisation on the book, music and video games industries and the interaction between creators and new digital platforms, for the Research Blog Series


Project: Intermediaries

Investigators: Morten Hviid (UEA), Sofia Izquierdo Sanchez (University of Huddersfield), Sabine Jacques (UEA). Project initially led by Emily Laidlaw (University of Calgary)

What did your research aim to do?
The purpose of this project was to investigate the structure of selected creative industries, in particular the relationship between content creators, traditional intermediaries and platforms, to determine whether the current ecosystem maximises creativity and economic growth. To do so, we decided to focus on three key industries: books, music, and video games. Firstly, we map out the impact of digitalisation on the industry structure and then investigate the barriers for creative works from the moment of creation to the retail sector. As the project developed, the ability of the creator to either carry out or project-manage the entirety of the creative process up to the distribution became a more central question. In particular, we intended to understand what are the benefits, costs and challenges deriving from digitalisation for creators relying on new intermediaries (digital platforms) to access the market.

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Research Blog Series: The Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients

Kicking off the theme of Intermediaries, Platforms and Users for the Research Blog Series, Philip Schlesinger sets out the research into the cultural business support intermediary.


Project: Supporting creative business: Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients (A Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange Project).

Investigators: Professor Philip Schlesinger (PI), Dr Melanie Selfe (Co-I), Dr Ealasaid Munro (PDRA), the University of Glasgow.

What did your research aim to do?
The research aimed to undertake the first major detailed study of a cultural business support intermediary.

How did you do it?
A primary method was team ethnography in Cultural Enterprise Office. This was complemented by extensive access to the organisation’s documentation and a range of interviews with its clients, staff and the mentors used for training.

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Research Blog Series: The Copyright Evidence Wiki

In the final Research Blog Series post on the theme of Regulation & Enforcement, Kris Erickson presents the resource making copyright studies more accessible.


Competitors pitch their ideas to the jury
at the 2016 EU Hackathon in Brussels (Photo: Kris Erickson)

Project:  The Copyright Evidence Wiki

How can policy makers and academics engage with the growing body of empirical work on the effects of copyright law? The Copyright Evidence Wiki addresses this challenge by cataloguing and indexing studies in an open, transparent and accessible resource. The project was undertaken by the RCUK funded CREATe centre, and further supported by a grant from the Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) at the University of Glasgow. The current phase of the Copyright Evidence Wiki is supported by AHRC Follow-on Funding for ‘Unlocking CoCreative Possibilities‘ (AH/P013341/1).

Investigators: The Impact Acceleration Account award was held by Theodore Koutmeridis (PI) and Kris Erickson (Co-I). From 2014 to 2017, the Copyright Evidence Wiki was developed by Theo Koutmeridis (lead editor), Kris Erickson and Martin Kretschmer. Research assistants helped with coding entries: PhD candidates with CREATe included Kenny Barr, Megan Blakely, Jaakko Miettinen, Victoria Stobo and Andrea Wallace. From September 2017, Amy Thomas (CREATe PhD student) joined the project as Sub Editor. An Editorial Board was formed (see project page here).

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