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<nettime> closing down the creative industries
Ned Rossiter on Tue, 18 Oct 2005 23:15:33 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> closing down the creative industries


[a bizarre idea that somehow tightening IP laws will presumably increase
"innovation" in the creative industries. And how are more 'robust' laws put into
effect anyway? Enhanced encryption methods, better data surveillance, larger legal
bureaucracy to flush out pirates? Is this what's meant by 'more efficient
publishing models'?]


http://www.computing.co.uk/computing/comment/2143244/restrict- 
creative-industries
Will Davies

Do not restrict our creative industries
When it comes to IP, the agenda suddently turns matronly. 'Do not  
download illegally!' it admonishes
Computing, 05 Oct 2005

The main battleground of the 2005 General Election was style not substance. While
Michael Howard staked his claim on simplicity and brevity, the government used its
manifesto to appear authoritative and at ease with the technicalities of policy.

This may explain how such a complicated issue as intellectual property (IP)
managed to make it into Labour's policy proposals: 'We will modernise copyright
and other forms of protection of intellectual property rights so that they are
appropriate for the digital age. We will ensure content creators can protect their
innovations in a digital age. Piracy is a growing threat and we will work with
industry to protect against it.'

A major international conference in London this week hopes to take a step towards
a more credible and robust IP regime. The Creative Economy Conference, organised
by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and others, will explore the
creative industries, threats and opportunities opened up by digital technology,
and the most critical policy issues. But what will these be?

One thing we can be reasonably sure of is that enforcement will be a popular
theme. Although it does little to endear them to the public, content industries
have a habit of beginning any debate about IP on a note of paranoia. Creative
industries are worth eight per cent of UK gross domestic product (GDP), but we are
constantly forewarned that piracy threatens to wipe this out. Governments and
industry must band together to uphold law and livelihood.

But this tone does not represent the most effective piece of public relations. Our
creative industries make a marvellous contribution to our economy, but they can
overstate the crisis that the internet poses.

The challenge is to focus on practical, productive activities first and foremost,
while keeping alive the importance of policing existing IP rights. For instance, a
host of new and more efficient publishing models are emerging that exploit the
internet without imperilling the moral and financial rights of creators.
Governments should recognise that these are precisely what the knowledge economy
is all about, and nurture them.

A more forward-looking model of media literacy could also be developed. In the UK,
the communications regulator, Ofcom, is responsible for the promotion of media
_literacy to help individuals confidently consume and create in a digital age.
This is a noble ambition that should be treated as a serious policy programme, but
when it comes to IP, the agenda suddenly turns matronly. 'Do not download
illegally' it admonishes. And so children are taught what they are not allowed to
do, but this should be secondary to what they are empowered to do.

These are already important questions for the DTI, and they are right to be
pursuing the constructive lines of enquiry.

Policy-makers are exploring whether there is anything more that can be done, in
terms of model contracts or generic digital rights management solutions. _There is
one final issue that ought to be on the table at the Creative Economy Conference,
but that almost certainly will not be. This is the fate of open-access _culture
and public domain. With copyright extensions likely to be driven through in the UK
before too long, there is still too little space given to the interests of
individuals, communities and - yes - businesses that exploit the internet in
collaborative and productive ways. There are credible economic arguments for
limiting the expansion of IP, not to mention the obvious cultural arguments for
doing so.

This week's conference should be a useful step towards a more effective and
legitimate model of IP protection for the digital age.  But it would be a shame if
it were to lose sight of Europe's longer- term goals of higher productivity and a
thriving public culture.


William Davies is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy
Research, where he is leading a project on 'Intellectual Property and the Public
Sphere'. See http:// ippr.typepad.com



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